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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 9 Hansard (23 August) . . Page.. 3269..


MS TUCKER (continuing):

there are operational requirements and he can try again in five minutes. When he tried to visit him, he met similar difficulties, also attributed by staff to staffing shortages. There were too many people already there, then there had already been one visitor, then it was out of hours, and so on.

It has been 24 hours since this family became very seriously concerned about the state of this man's mental health. They have been unable to find out what is needed and to arrange it. Can you confirm whether or not there are staff shortages at Belconnen Remand Centre that are causing these sorts of things to happen? If there are, what are you doing to address the situation?

MR MOORE: Thank you for the question. I think the first and most important thing is that Belconnen Remand Centre is under significant stress because we have too many people in that resource. That is why it is important for us to move as quickly as we possibly can in order to ensure that we can replace that facility. We need to move as quickly as we possibly can on building a new remand centre and a new correction facility.

In the interim, you will be aware that $1.5 million was committed in the budget to extra space and extra cells at the Belconnen Remand Centre. The correctional facilities group have worked extraordinarily quickly on that, and I expect to be able to have those opened in the next couple of months.

We have been aware for some time of the difficulty of staffing. I have discussed this issue with the head of corrections on a number of occasions. We are still going through a proper process to make sure that the staff we employ are appropriate and can be appropriately trained for the particular task at hand. So there is constant advertising, taking staff and moving them in there. They did inform me that there would be a shortage for some time. There have been some double shifts for people to deal with. My understanding is that the training process is under way in order to ensure that we can reduce the shortage.

It is very difficult for me to respond, particularly without notice, to a specific case. It may well be that there are other issues about the person that I am not aware of. I find that that is often the case. It may not be in this case. There are often other issues that I may not be aware of. If you would like to provide us with the details of the person, I would be delighted to ask questions and get back to you.

Public housing

MR WOOD: My question is also to Mr Moore. Minister, when you were making comments about the recent increases in public housing rents you indicated that concerned tenants could seek a review from ACT Housing. This indicates there could be problems in the process. Minister, could you tell me about that process? How was it carried out? What was the methodology? Was it just a desk job? How did it get under way?

MR MOORE: One of the things that are most important is that it was made very clear that this did not undermine anybody's ability to use the full process, which is an appeal to the tribunal. Therefore, Housing put in place an administrative process-a desk job, as


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