Page 4027 - Week 12 - Wednesday, 30 November 2022
understand whether the detainee poses a risk to the safety of others in the correctional centre, due to any items they may bring into the centre.
Other forms of search currently available under the Corrections Management Act do not adequately allow for a proper assessment to be undertaken on admission. It is worth noting that, over the past 18 months, strip searches in general have been reduced in the AMC by almost half. This is great progress, but we will not rest on our laurels, so I have asked the commissioner to continue finding ways to further reduce the number of searches by using technology. The amendment incorporates a statutory requirement for a review of the search provision after two years following its commencement, with a report due to be tabled in the Legislative Assembly six months after the review commences.
I also note that the amendment does not change a corrections officer’s responsibility, as an officer of a public authority, to consider the human rights of detainees. Importantly, the amendment does not preclude other forms of less intrusive search, or a combination of searches, from being used to search a detainee on admission—in particular, individual circumstances ahead of the statutory review, should the Director-General determine that an equally effective and less restrictive search can be conducted. In this instance, relevant policies and procedures will guide corrections officers in the exercise of their judgement.
There are also safeguards currently in place to maintain the dignity of the individual being searched, to the extent possible and to minimise the infringement of human rights, and these safeguards have not been impacted by the amendments. These have been outlined in more detail in the explanatory statement. Not performing adequate searches creates a risk to the welfare and wellbeing of detainees and non-detainees. The proposed amendment is responsive and proportionate to safety and security risks and ensures that detainees have human rights and that rights to privacy and humane treatment are not unreasonably limited.
Overall, this bill strikes a fine balance between liberty and security, which are fundamental responsibilities of government. In relation to the amendments about community corrections, these amendments balance the ACT government’s priority to foster offenders’ rehabilitation and victims’ rights to justice and safety. Meanwhile, the amendments relating to the administration of correctional centres balance the rights of searched individuals and the paramount priority of ensuring that everyone within the correctional centre is safe and secure.
In concluding, I wish to acknowledge that, in developing the bill, many stakeholders affected by the proposals have offered invaluable contributions. Their input has significantly shaped the amendments that I have just outlined to the Assembly, and I wish to thank each and every stakeholder for their contribution. The government remains committed to working with our community to develop modern, empathetic and responsible laws relating to the administration of our corrections system. This bill’s amendments represent an important addition to our pursuit of this goal. I commend the bill to the Assembly.
Debate (on motion by Mrs Kikkert) adjourned to the next sitting.