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Paying the Price . . Page.. 737 ..

The Greens support many of the other recommendations made in Paying the Price, including the development of an ACT custodial facility of medium security over the longer term. There are many important elements that such a facility could incorporate, such as a work centre and horticultural centre, where prisoners can obtain skills, counselling and education while being detained. In the short term, however, the Greens hope that the detention facilities can be expanded to allow transitional release programs for prisoners to be reintegrated into their community and to re-establish family relationships when their sentence is nearly over.

Mr Speaker, it is appropriate to focus more generally for a moment on the issue of crime and crime prevention. The link between social and economic conditions and the incidence of crime is well documented. This includes not only poverty, unemployment and illiteracy, as noted in Paying the Price, but also issues of planning. The Australian Institute of Criminology notes the linkage between design and crime. They mention not only the more obvious factors such as street lighting, but also design of shopping malls, public spaces and our suburbs. Obviously, the nature of our public transport system is also relevant to this discussion. Most of our programs for crime prevention are punitive in nature rather than preventative. Initiatives such as Neighbourhood Watch are an attempt to facilitate community involvement in crime prevention. Neighbourhood Watch could well be expanded to focus more on neighbourhood development, further developing links which have been made. The reason country town policing is so successful is that it is preventative rather than punitive in nature, and it is about fostering a sense of community and inclusion.

I am very pleased to see that this initiative is supported throughout the Assembly. Once people have committed crimes, particularly minor offenders, it is not only in their best interests but also in the interests of society as a whole that there is the maximum potential for rehabilitation, training, counselling and education. Periodic detention is an excellent example of how minor offenders, particularly debt defaulters, can serve a sentence without being taken out of their community. Many of the community service programs being planned, such as the Landcare programs, are also positive. I hope that this Bill gains the support of the whole Assembly and that the Government continues to work towards the provision of more facilities such as transitional release programs. I also hope that this Assembly works with the community to tackle some of the root causes of crime and violence in our society.

MR HUMPHRIES (Attorney-General) (3.38), in reply: In closing this debate, I thank members, particularly Mr Connolly and Ms Tucker, for their comments. I am glad that there has been some contribution to the debate because this really is a very significant piece of legislation. For the first time, this will give us in the ACT some new method of offering a solution to a particular penalty question between the two options of full-time gaol in New South Wales - or transportation to New South Wales, as I have been known to call it - and community service orders, and that is very important.

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