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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: Week 8 Hansard (3 August) . . Page.. 3319..


MS TUCKER (continuing):

experts to define the safest way to implement an injecting equipment exchange program in the ACT corrections setting, including the Belconnen remand centre, periodic detention centres and the Quamby youth detention centre. In its response, the government said that although the adult correctional facility environment has been identified as at high risk of blood-borne viral infection due to the high rates of injecting, tattooing, unsafe sexual practices and the high prevalence of hepatitis C in correctional facilities, the extent of these problems in some or all ACT facilities is unclear; and that the government would examine the costs, benefits and feasibility of this recommendation.

At the forum run by ACT Corrections on developing a human rights framework for corrective services on Friday 2 July, James Ryan said that a proposal for a pilot trial for exchanging syringes and injecting equipment in prison was put at the Australasian Police Ministers Council in Hobart and was rejected unanimously. My question is, who represented the ACT at this meeting and was this response informed by the committee report?

MR WOOD: I take it Ms Tucker is asking me as Minister for Police and Emergency Services, not so much as Acting Minister for Health. I was at that meeting in Hobart. Yes, I take note of Assembly committee reports. I do not necessarily agree with everything in them, but I am aware of them and the import of them.

Mrs Dunne: Do you read them?

MR WOOD: Yes indeed, as assiduously as you do, Mrs Dunne. In Hobart we got the other perspective on this. It was a perspective that was emerging here, although as corrections minister I was not closely involved with it. Understandably, those working in corrections institutions are very nervous about the availability of needles in those institutions. They are used often in the community-too often-as weapons. So, there are great concerns about them. I know some of the background of the debate about syringes with retractable points on them, and one would not be surprised that at the meeting of police ministers that concern was part of the thinking. It is a difficult area to work through, Ms Tucker.

MS TUCKER: I ask a supplementary question. Has the government initiated round table discussions with all current corrections officers and relevant health experts to deal with this issue?

MR WOOD: On behalf of the Chief Minister, we will take that on notice. It is not something that has emerged in my time as acting health minister, and I think it is more to do with corrections.

Bushfires

MR PRATT: My question is directed to the Chief Minister. Where were you on the evening of Friday 17 January 2003, and what were you doing? Can you confirm that you failed to ask any questions about the approaching bushfires on the evening of 17 January?

MR STANHOPE: On the evening of Friday 17 January I was in Canberra.


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