Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 07 Hansard (Thursday, 1 July 2010) . . Page.. 3118 ..
the AMC. I would expect to see the government follow through on this recommendation.
The second recommendation was to establish a strategic indicator for JACS to monitor the proportion of sentenced prisoners who are repatriated from New South Wales and the number of first-time prisoners repatriated at the AMC. It is disappointing that the government has not agreed to this particular recommendation. The intent behind this recommendation was to provide an indication of the culture operating within the AMC.
This will be a key factor in the success of programs being supported and implemented. The proportion of prisoners from New South Wales will show what issues may have to be dealt in terms of established patterns of behaviour from other prisons and the number of first-time prisoners will, as well as being an indicator of prison culture, provide a useful insight into recidivism itself.
The ACT Greens fully support the operation of the AMC as a human rights compliant prison. I do commend the government on setting out to do something different to other prisons across the country—from the design of the prison to the intent to establish training programs. We have expressed concern consistently on the through-care and after-care programs for released prisoners from the AMC. The government gave an undertaking to develop a through-care and after-care plan for the AMC, but this has yet to eventuate.
I raised in the committee hearings that the matter of through-care and after-care strategy has been raised in various Assembly debates and committees for some time, as well as being strongly supported by the community sector. The government, in response to my questions, did concede that they do not have a date for when this strategy will be in place. While we know that a number of groups have approved visitor status, the common concern we hear raised by groups is that there is little coordination of the services being provided by community organisations and groups, and that often one group will not know what another is providing in terms of a similar service.
To some extent, direction on this will need to come from the community sector itself. However, with their limited and already stretched resources, government needs to provide leadership and assistance. Making contact with a prisoner is an essential factor in establishing relationships and then maintaining contact with a prisoner once they are released. Again, this will be a crucial factor in ensuring that recidivism rates are reduced and released prisoners are able to become a part of the community.
As I have pointed out previously, prison cuts an individual’s tie to the community, social services and employment. It is both an obligation upon the government and an important part of the rehabilitation process to assist prisoners in re-engaging with these services upon release. In particular, we call upon Corrective Services to work with ACT Health to ensure that prisoners with ongoing treatment programs are able to access appropriate public medical services, with Housing ACT to facilitate prisoners having prompt access to appropriate housing, businesses and community groups to give prisoners the best chance of employment.