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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 5 Hansard (9 May) . . Page.. 1478 ..

Correctional facilities

(Question No 136)

Ms Tucker asked the Minister for Police, Emergency Services and Corrections, upon notice, on 10 April 2002:

In relation to inmates and other clients of ACT correctional facilities:

(1) What programs are (a) delivered in ACT correctional facilities, and

(b) by whom.

(2) Are specific programs made available for men and women, and for people from non-English speaking and culturally diverse backgrounds.

(3) What arrangements are in place for people with mental illnesses.

Mr Quinlan: The answer to the member's question is as follows:

(1) The following programs are delivered in ACT correctional facilities.

The Belconnen Remand Centre (BRC) offers drug and alcohol counselling services, including methadone maintenance, as well as psychological assistance and counselling. These services are provided by Mental Health Service (MHS) and Corrections Health staff. Drug and Alcohol Groups are held once a week by the Drug and Alcohol Case Manager, with topics varying according to detainee requirements. Topics this year have included Safe Sex, Hepatitis, Life after Prison, Alcohol and Heroin. In addition, Alcoholics Anonymous access the Centre to provide assistance with alcohol withdrawal.

A range of educational and vocational programs are available to detainees, with a particular focus on oral and written communication skills and basic literacy and numeracy skills. There are also limited paid work opportunities available within the Centre. In addition, consciousness raising programs in areas such as family violence, gender conditioning, stress management and relationship issues are offered. Educational courses are provided by the Education Officer on the staff of the BRC. Detainees typically attend courses for 5 hours per week, in two and three hour blocks.

Course content is chosen based on the needs of the community, as well as the detainees. Course presentation is aimed at providing detainees with information that will enable them to gain insight into their life situation and make more positive choices in the future.

At the Periodic Detention Centre (PDC) a Cognitive Skills Program is currently offered for both men and women. Cognitive Skills programs are aimed at reducing re-offending by effecting behaviour change through changing thought patterns and improving problem solving skills. The program is being provided by two Senior Psychologists of ACT Corrective Services.

A Blood Borne Diseases educational program provided by the AIDS Action Council of ACT is planned to commence this financial year at the PDC and the BRC.

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