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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 02 Hansard (Tuesday, 9 February 2021) . . Page.. 296 ..

The Elders Family and Culture Program is due to commence following the relaxation of the COVID-19 restrictions and has been developed for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander female detainees who have children in the community. Eligible female detainees will be able to have their children brought into the facility, with the option of including another family member who is at the AMC for specific family and cultural engagements, strengthening cultural connections and maintaining parental and family bonds. This will include activities such as artwork, jewellery making, storytelling or traditional dance, provided by a local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander service provider.

These new programs build on many other services offered by the ACT Corrective Services Indigenous Services Unit, working in partnership with the community, elders and local service providers. By creating strong partnerships with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community we know we can achieve positive outcomes for Indigenous people in custody.

As members are aware, in January 2018 Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Services began delivering their holistic Indigenous model of care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the AMC. This service includes primary health care as well as social, emotional and wellbeing services and is an Australian first and a model of successful partnership with an Aboriginal community-controlled health provider.

The ACT government is proactively managing the issues presented by the rise in detainee numbers through strategies such as committing to reducing recidivism by 25 per cent by 2025 and Building Communities, Not Prisons, which enhance supports to reduce reoffending, both in custody and the community. The ACT government provided recurrent funding of $5.347 million in the 2017-18 budget for the extended throughcare program. This funding includes an additional full-time employee in the designated position of Indigenous throughcare transition officer, to focus on supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ex-detainees reintegrating into the community. ACT Corrective Services also works closely with Yeddung Mura, which delivers an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander throughcare support program that provides culturally appropriate support, enabling people to succeed on their journey from custody to community.

ACT Corrective Services is working hard to support and maximise opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander detainees to maintain links to culture, connection and community. However, we know there is always more work to do to strengthen rehabilitative options and community partnerships. I will continue to work with ACT Corrective Services to address the concerning rate of incarceration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the ACT.

My interest is to find solutions to ensure that we can support and improve the experience of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as detainees in custody and, more importantly, to stop them entering the justice system in the first place. Regarding the former, I have met with Ms Tongs and have asked her to work with me to find solutions and opportunities for improvement at ACT Corrective Services.

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