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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 5 Hansard (29 May) . . Page.. 1145..


MRS BURKE (continuing):

faith—from traditional denominations to modern Pentecostal or Charismatic, Catholic or Protestant, large or small. It certainly is not over the top, preaching based; it is action based. That sounds very positive in terms of really being able to rehabilitate people back into society. It simply is not about locking people up and throwing away the key; it is about working with these prisoners inside to make sure that when they re-enter life they are able to contribute.

The proportion of unsentenced or unclassified prisoners to the total prisoner population in June 2006 was an amazing 22 per cent. Why is that scary? Because these people are in limbo, remand or holding and are all in maximum security together, whether for murder, break and enter, white-collar or traffic offences, until something is done, some for a year or more. That may vary in the ACT, but it is quite concerning.

Seventy per cent of those serving time have literacy skills of 7th grade or less, with over 50 per cent of them being classed in the illiterate levels. Why is that important? If you cannot read, you spend your time watching TV, working out at the gym, mixing or trying not to mix, looking at picture magazines, deadening the head and staying at the same level. And if educational activity programs are cut due to funding issues et cetera, the chances of any rehabilitation or changing minds about the cycle they are in is reduced. Seventy-five per cent of convicted criminals doing time are doing so for drug-related crime in one form or another, with the majority being petty crime levels. Most women in prison come out of extremely abusive environments.

The Kairos organisation are to be commended for the work they are doing. I look forward to talking with them more in terms of the humanitarian and community approach that we can take to people incarcerated. As they say:

It's very easy to breed better criminals in that environment than better members of society—which leads to the final fact ... unless they die in there—all people in correctional centres in Australia will be back out in society one day!

Environment—volunteer projects

MS PORTER (Ginninderra) (5.43): All of us in this place are concerned about our environment and climate change. If there are members who are not, then I suggest it is time that they did. Fortunately we have organisations harnessing considerable volunteer effort and, through the support of the ACT government, they are working hard to retain, repair and restore our environment.

One such organisation is Greening Australia. I enjoy being able to join with other volunteers, through that organisation, on weekends in propagating, planting and protecting many thousands of young trees in the ACT. There are many tasks to be undertaken. Thanks to people like Toby Jones and Haydn Burgess from Greening Australia, since January 2006, 67 events have been organised, including planting and maintenance days, seed-collection and propagating workshops, community presentations and field days.

Some 2,880 people or 10,096 volunteer hours have been involved in the program, including 18 different community groups, businesses and government departments.


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