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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 12 Hansard (Wednesday, 24 November 2021) . . Page.. 3579 ..


time as minister, each budget has delivered an increase in the amount appropriated to ACT Policing and the ESA.

I invite those opposite to support our hardworking staff across the Emergency Services, Policing and Corrective Services by voting for this boost in funding. I commend the budget to the Assembly.

MRS KIKKERT (Ginninderra) (11.13): During the last appropriations debate, I spoke about the state of our corrections system. I spoke about the staff shortages, the consequent overtime, the assaults, the riot and the fires. Today, in response to the bill, I rise to speak about the future of our corrections system.

Modern prisons serve two primary functions: to protect the public and to rehabilitate the people within their walls. Good things can be brought to pass by people who have made serious mistakes in their past, but they need help in getting themselves on a better path to becoming contributing members of society on release. As things stand, the government is not doing enough to help these people, and it is well past the time they started doing so.

There is much to improve at the AMC. Better conditions for the staff and increased investment in rehabilitation tools for detainees are just a couple of areas where we can do better. In the ACT we have a prison that lags years behind other jurisdictions. And according to the October 2021 report from the Productivity Commission, the ACT has the highest recidivism rate in the entire country, at 78 per cent. This is a damning condemnation of the government’s performance and says something about its commitment—or, rather, its non-commitment—to the people in it.

When it comes to improving the prison and being forward-thinking about how we do things at the AMC, the Labor-Greens government have been all over the place. For example, in 2010 the AMC had a body scanner which was regarded as quite forward-thinking at that time. Other jurisdictions, such as New South Wales, only started implementing them in 2018. As New South Wale was phasing them in, the government were phasing them out and turning them off. They are only now bringing them back because they realised what a dumb and time-wasting move taking them offline was.

In the justice reinvestment space, a capstone investment of more than $30 million to support the reintegration of detainees was announced in last year’s budget and then quietly put on hold not long after. This is a sign of a government that is unstable and unfit to govern. How is it acceptable that a $30 million reintegration centre can be written into a budget and less than 12 months later be put on hold and its future put in doubt? Putting this centre on hold is a huge step back in the push to provide proper and effective rehabilitation for our detainees. It is a sign that the government does not care.

The delay is made even more unfortunate when considering the limited use that the existing transitional release centre, or TRC, has seen. Detainees have complained that it is almost impossible to be accepted into that program. Last year, only 12 detainees were able to use it, and since December 2020 only one application to get into the


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