CEDA member profile: G4S



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Joe Sofra,
Managing Director, G4S Australia and New Zealand

Can you tell us a bit about G4S?

Fundamentally G4S helps to create safer communities. We are the world's leading integrated security company employing 540,000 people across 90 countries.

G4S is an integral part of the Australian and New Zealand justice system. Our expertise and services range from establishing programs to reduce reoffending behaviour to ensuring our courts are safe, and prison management and transport. 

We also have a proven track record of excellence in assessing and managing safety risks for assets, infrastructure and people, on behalf of private and government entities.

What do you think is unique about G4S?

We have a responsibility that extends beyond the basic provision of services. We pursue solutions that ultimately affect community safety and asset security.

For example, we look beyond the right now of prison management to rehabilitation and reducing recidivism – the tendency of a convicted criminal to re-offend. If we get it wrong, people can get hurt, and we take that very seriously.

We are also in the unique position to leverage our global expertise to integrate services and technologies that enhance outcomes and lower cost for organisations. Services may stretch from securing assets in the national interest to finding a technology solution that makes people in our community feel safer.

What are the significant trends shaping your industry at the moment?

Within the justice environment, reducing recidivism is crucial to improving community safety. On average, 45 per cent of prisoners released in 2015-2016 returned to prison within two years. 
 
The pressure on this system is also growing considerably with the average number in custody increasing 30 per cent in the last five years. Australian taxpayers now spend $4.4 billion on corrective services, most of which goes towards incarceration.
 
Our community standards and expectations are shifting and we can see this in the way people are voting. They are demanding creative solutions to this challenge. There is growing recognition of the role private providers can play in accelerating innovation and efficiency in this space, without compromising the safety of those in our care.
 
We are also seeing growing cyber and physical threats to our nation-critical infrastructure – whether for malicious intent or as part of activism. We play an essential role in delivering integrated solutions to protect and assure high-valued assets in gas, water, power, mining, and technology. This can be a challenge in our geographically dispersed environment.

What is your role at G4S? What does a typical day look like?

My priorities focus on helping our organisation evolve to address complex and shifting trends we see in Australia and New Zealand.
 
How I do that is by spending time with our people – our customers and my team.
 
Like all leaders, it is my responsibility to foster meaningful customer relationships to help us understand not just their immediate needs, but their emerging demands. Part of this is asking the hard questions; challenging long-held views on priorities and where we are investing our resources.
 
We then need to ensure that we are developing our team’s capability to deliver on our customers’ future requirements. The skills required to get out ahead of shifting trends doesn’t happen by magic. It takes time and investment in our people.

What have been your priorities since moving into the Managing Director role?

Our domestic market has enormous potential and my priorities have focused on growth and helping our organisation pivot to address the emerging needs. This challenge includes ensuring that we have the right people in place to support this shift.
 
We are fortunate to be able to leverage and draw inspiration from all the fantastic initiatives, technology and solutions G4S is delivering globally. We intend to drive innovation in our space. 

What have been some of your highlights since joining G4S?

I’m particularly proud of the work we are doing in Mount Gambier with the South Australian Department for Correctional Services to reduce the rate of reoffending. G4S has been tasked with achieving a 15 per cent reduction in the rate of return to Mount Gambier Prison within two years of release.
 
To ensure the program has the best possible chance of success, we have engaged Flinders University and established a partnership with SYC, one of South Australia’s leading organisations in the not-for-profit social support sector, to provide invaluable support programs to a select group of prisoners.
 
I am also proud of the gains we have made in the provision of rehabilitation and reintegration solutions and justice security, in partnership with the Victorian Government, which will make a tangible difference in communities.

What are your hopes for G4S in Australia over the next five years?

Over the next five years, we will continue to grow our safer communities services and become the ‘go-to’ for organisations looking for creative solutions.

In the justice and correction space, we will break new ground in addressing recidivism and in the integrated security market, we will give organisations increased confidence in the security of critical assets in a cost-effective model.    

Why is G4S a CEDA member?

When we talk about healthy communities, the sense of safety is just one element. We know that people want financial stability, a physically safe environment and an added emotional component connected to the feeling of being safe. CEDA supports the economic viability of Australia, which has a massive impact on our communities.
 
Being part of the dialogue that CEDA inspires helps G4S to understand the pressures our communities are under and their wants and needs. When business interests diverge from the needs and wants of communities, both suffer.