Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2022 Week 12 Hansard (Thursday, 1 December 2022) . . Page.. 4142 ..
The government is committed to fostering a positive human rights culture in the territory and acknowledges that fulfilling this commitment includes embracing opportunities to identify areas for improvement. The Supreme Court’s declaration provides such an opportunity to engage in human rights dialogue and to ensure that our legislation processes and decision-making adequately consider the relevant human rights at play.
We recognise that the deprivation of liberty may be necessary to protect the community where a person has committed a serious offence but that such deprivation does not negate a detainee’s other human rights. Further, we know that respect for the human rights of detainees, staff, and visitors is an integral part of the effective and safe management of correctional centres.
As outlined in the government response, ACT Corrective Services has acted swiftly to make operational changes to the way in which detainees in the management unit are given access to open air and exercise. Following the June 2021 decision that clause 4.3 was inconsistent and invalid with the Corrections Management Act, the use of the rear yards was discontinued.
Detainees in the management unit are now provided with one hour of open air and exercise in the larger common recreational areas, in addition to their access to the external courtyard to their cells throughout the day. Daily logs have also been introduced to support the ongoing review and accountability of these processes. I can also advise that the operating procedure was revoked earlier this year and replaced by an updated procedure which does not include clause 4.3.
The Human Rights Act states that public authorities are obliged to act consistently with human rights and give proper consideration to human rights in decision-making. To ensure that policies and procedures support this consideration, Corrective Services is using a human rights lens in their incremental review of policies and procedures and has implemented targeted training on natural justice and good decision-making for both new recruits and existing staff.
It is also important to note that this is only the second time that a declaration of incompatibility has been made by the Supreme Court since the commencement of the Human Rights Act 18 years ago. This is a testament to the effectiveness of our current human rights scrutiny process and the continuous dedication across government to embedding human rights in all our work.
In closing, Madam Speaker, the government has carefully considered the issues raised by the declaration and has put in place measures to ensure that the territory remains a place which protects and promotes human rights. I commend the government response to the Assembly.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Mr Gentleman presented the following paper:
Animal-friendly netting—Assembly resolution of 23 November 2021—Update.