Serco begins PR push to win even more privatised business

Not that most governments seemingly need more convincing to make services more “efficient” (which is code for a lack of accountability):

Serco, the multinational company that makes hundreds of millions of dollars a year running outsourced government services, will today launch an advertising campaign aimed at boosting its public image in WA as it prepares to take on lucrative new local contracts.

The company has received negative publicity from its role managing Australia’s immigration detention centres and has been targeted by the WA branch of United Voice, formerly the Miscellaneous Workers Union, which is campaigning against privatisation of backroom services at Fiona Stanley Hospital, due to open in 2014.

Serco is the Barnett Government’s preferred tenderer for the huge Fiona Stanley contract and last month it won the $210 million prisoner transport and custodial services security job from rival contracting group G4S.

The company is understood to be setting up a Perth office and the advertising campaign is being rolled out in part to lay the groundwork for a big recruiting drive to fill hundreds of jobs at Fiona Stanley.

The campaign tries to humanise Serco by focusing on employees who deliver frontline services with the tagline: “Living, thinking and acting locally.”

It features a YouTube video with a Serco employee, Catherine, who tells how she helped a female Transperth customer who telephoned the Serco-run call centre after she missed a late-night bus.

Serco Australia chief executive David Campbell said the campaign was “an opportunity for the WA community to get to know the real Serco”.

“We have a proud 16-year history of successfully delivering essential services to West Australians,” he said. “We are already providing services in transport, justice, defence and immigration in WA and soon hope to sign a contract with the Government for the provision of non-clinical services at Fiona Stanley Hospital.”

Serco was last month praised by the inspector of custodial services for its management of WA’s only private prison Acacia. The firm also runs the Indian Pacific train.

However, it has attracted a lot of criticism over its management of detention centres after riots at Christmas Island and Villawood.

It also ran a British detention juvenile centre that was the scene of the suicide death of a 14-year-old inmate and was recently cited for breaches of cleanliness at a Scottish hospital.