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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2011 Week 07 Hansard (Tuesday, 28 June 2011) . . Page.. 2662 ..


Mr Bill Allcroft, who is a very experienced prisoner aid official who had 10 years as the official visitor for detention centres here in the ACT and who has been working for 12 years in prisoner aid, came out with an objective assessment of what prisoners themselves think. He said that he asked a neutral question of the 150 plus prisoners that he had seen. The question was: do you want an NSP or not? In putting it in simple terms with no prejudice on that question, for or against, 100 per cent of those prisoners did not support a needle and syringe program.

Worse, what he said is that in a number of the surveys that have been conducted, a number of the questions put to prisoners have actually been lies. The reason for that is that much of the answer that you receive is in the question that is put. If the question is being put, as it has been, by advocates of a needle and syringe program, it is going to throw up a different answer than if prisoners are asked in a neutral environment by a neutral questioner who is not being subjective but is being entirely objective.

Mr Assistant Speaker, the report was damning. Since we have had the report we see more evidence that says that we should not have a needle and syringe program, evidence that is coming from those who have the most to lose from this, people on the ground, the prisoners themselves and the staff. I will look in detail at the government’s report. We will hold them to account. Where they have agreed to implement recommendations, we will make sure that they do. Where they have not agreed to implement recommendations, we will ask the question why.

MS BRESNAN (Brindabella) (3.25): I will be very brief in relation to this. The Greens look forward to seeing the detailed report. One of the key issues and concerns that has been raised with us previously which we are interested in is around the crisis support unit and that, because of some resourcing issues, it probably is not appropriate for them to be in there for a long amount of time.

I will be interested in seeing how issues around that are going to be addressed. I do acknowledge that that is an issue around resourcing and potentially also about having appropriate settings for people with particular needs who need to be in a long-term situation. We are looking forward to seeing the response to that.

We are also obviously looking forward to seeing the results of the work that has been undertaken by Michael Moore. We would just note in relation to the points that have been made around prisoners in particular that CALMS have actually come out and said that the people they speak to in relation to the prison and the need for an NSP are overwhelmingly in favour of that sort of program. I think we need to consider all the views that have been put forward on that particular issue and also look at the evidence that has come from overseas where those programs have operated.

The Greens will be looking forward to seeing this detailed report and hope that some of the issues that were raised in the Burnet report are addressed. Women prisoners are people who also have particular needs in the AMC and those particular needs should be addressed.

Question resolved in the affirmative.


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