Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 07 Hansard (Thursday, 1 July 2010) . . Page.. 3119 ..
In addition, the government should be measuring and reporting the rates at which prisoners are successfully engaging with health, housing and employment services upon their release, as these are crucial indicators to demonstrate the effectiveness of our corrections system. There was no specific funding in this budget for through-care, after-care or transitional programs.
Many organisations are having to address issues for AMC prisoners and released prisoners within their current budgets. This is not sustainable. We need to have a plan as well as specific resourcing to ensure the viability and success of transitional programs. We have had the recent situation when the tender for the women’s transitional housing program was delayed and the fact that 18 months into the operation of AMC there is no specific transitional housing service for women.
While the numbers of released women prisoners are small, they are the most vulnerable group, particularly taking into account issues around children and domestic violence. (Second speaking period taken.) As I was saying, women are among the most vulnerable groups when it comes to looking at prison populations, particularly when we look at issues such as children and domestic violence that they have to deal with. Women should not be returned to an unstable or dangerous situation.
Again, we know that service providers such as Inanna and Toora Women have been picking up the added pressure, but they are doing so on the understanding that this specific service would have been established this year. I hope we will see a speedy resolution to this matter.
I understand that the therapeutic community program is proving very successful and that there is some consideration of siting the community outside of the AMC. I also understand that there are some issues with running the program in an environment where there are different levels of prisoners. I hope that this program will continue, regardless of issues around location, as it has the potential to have very positive and lasting impacts on the prisoners who take part.
The Attorney-General has previously notified me that the corrections officers are trialling a 12-hour roster system, negotiated with the CPSU, in an effort to reduce absenteeism amongst corrections staff. It would be useful for the minister to inform the Assembly of whether this rostering measure is successful in reducing the incidence of staff shortages.
Finally—in part this relates to corrections health—I would encourage the Attorney-General to strongly consider commencing discussions with corrections staff and community groups about the implementation of a needle and syringe program in the AMC. The high level of incidence of blood-borne viral infections amongst prisoners means that this kind of program should be carefully considered as an effective health, human rights and drug treatment measure.
MR SESELJA (Molonglo—Leader of the Opposition) (4.16): It is worth touching on some of the human rights issues that we have seen play out in the last couple of days. There is a concern in the community that the Human Rights Act will be used as an excuse not to implement good, reasonable legislation. We saw that from the Chief