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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 02 Hansard (Thursday, 11 May 1995) . . Page.. 429 ..

There are also potential savings in providing this sentencing option to the court where suitable offenders may have otherwise been sent to gaol for their offences. The cost per bed per year in the periodic detention centre, if its 30 beds are fully occupied, will be around $9,500 per detainee. As a comparison, in 1993-94 it cost the ACT around $50,000 per year to house each prisoner in New South Wales gaols. The program will create eight new positions - three full-time and five part-time - in the ACT. Apart from these potential savings, it is widely accepted that prison has detrimental effects not only on offenders but also on their families and employment, and in some cases increases the social problems that contributed to their offending behaviour. Periodic detention allows suitable offenders to maintain their family, community and employment links whilst receiving a significant punishment for their offences. It also provides participants with the opportunity to access agencies which may assist them in their rehabilitation needs during the week. Whilst rehabilitation is a key component of the sentence, periodic detention is not a soft option. It is imposed in substitution for a prison sentence, and a breach of the conditions will, in most cases, mean that the offender will serve the balance of the sentence in prison, subject to any parole conditions imposed by the court.

Members might be aware that the old Quamby Youth Centre has been converted to accommodate the periodic detention centre. The refurbishment of this centre has been completed on budget. Recurrent funds to operate the centre in 1995-96 will be $285,000. Substantial liaison has been undertaken with representatives from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community to ensure that the overall refurbishment addresses their concerns and accords with the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody. As well, Mr Speaker, specific units have been modified in accordance with this consultation and the recommendations.

The introduction of periodic detention is the first step in increasing the range of sentencing options available to magistrates and judges in this Territory to enable them to deal more appropriately with those who have committed offences in the Territory. Mr Speaker, I consider that the introduction of periodic detention will be an important initiative that increasingly allows the ACT to take responsibility for the punishment and rehabilitation of its offenders. It is, however, only the first of many steps that I believe we need to take as a community. I commend the Bill to the Assembly. It is one that I believe deserves the support of all members.

Debate (on motion by Mr Connolly) adjourned.

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