WOODFORD CORRECTIONAL CENTRE DOG HANDLER, TONY AUSTIN
Dog Handler, Tony Austin began his career with QCS 28 years ago. “I think I was 22 when I originally started at the old Woodford prison, before they built this one,” he says.
When the centre was decommissioned, Tony returned to his trade for a few years, before gaining a position at Wacol in 1995. “I started again with QCS when I found out this place was being built. I stayed at Wacol for a few years until Woodford was set to open, and then I transferred over. I was here for about two and a half years and then got into the Dog Squad in 1999,” says Tony.
Typical duties for a handler can include perimeter patrols and foot patrols inside the centre at certain times of each day. Handlers also assist with mail and visits processing, as well as searches. “We follow escorts into Brisbane for high security prisoners. We’re there as a risk management strategy,” Tony adds.
Becoming a member of the Dog Squad is a particularly coveted position, but according to Tony, it’s about being in the job for the right reasons. “I’ve been in the job for 18 years. This is my third dog, and I’ve never had a dog bite a prisoner. Don’t get me wrong – they will do it – and if they did, in the right situation, it would be effective. That’s why it’s a deterrent.”
He highlights the main priority of the job is about looking out for the other officers. “Often, just the presence of the dogs is the support the response officers who are dealing with a situation need,” he says.