Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 5 Hansard (7 May) . . Page.. 1651 ..
MR STEFANIAK (continuing):
breaches. That is desirable, yes, but in practice it will not occur. Perhaps I can have your undertaking that you will continue to take whatever steps possible to ensure that this pleasant trend continues. I am pleased to hear that that is the case, even though the figures I had seemed to indicate otherwise. I am delighted that that is not the case.
With that undertaking, I am happy to compliment the department, and support your notice. I also indicate that I will be asking you some more questions-and probably detailed questions. I would appreciate detailed answers in respect of all the figures, to avoid confusion in the future. Having said that and accepting your figures, I find that pleasing. It is a trend we obviously want to see continue.
MS DUNDAS (3.37): I also address the substantive motion at this time. I am glad that the Attorney-General and the shadow Attorney-General have worked out what they are doing-whose numbers are right, and what has been going on. Nevertheless, I think the important thing is that we continue to take steps and provide information to the Assembly about what is going on, to ensure that community service orders are actually being met.
I am very supportive of community-based correction orders, and of the periodic detention scheme. I believe that, as the territory does not have the same corrective services facilities as those of other jurisdictions, we must have strong and effective alternatives to detention.
During last year's estimates, when I was questioning the ACT Director of Corrective Services about periodic detention and community service orders, he stated that over half the offenders sentenced to periodic detention do not show up. He stated that this high rate of absenteeism has been existent for the previous six years. Therefore, I do not see this as an ALP problem or a Liberal problem, but as a systemic problem within corrective services which needs to be addressed by whichever government it is in power and by the community in general.
It seems that the government should consider expanding the home detention program, as it appears that this is under-utilised. It should provide support for both community service orders and periodic detention. If required, serial absentees should be punished for their absenteeism.
We live in a community where we say that, if you have committed a crime, you should be punished for it-and we have different ways of implementing punishments. We must follow through on those punishments-they cannot be ignored.
If it is true that there has been a decrease in the number of breaches of community service orders, yes-that is to be applauded, but we cannot stop there. Further work must be done to continue to maintain a low breach rate for community service orders. As I have said, we must look at other ways in which we detain people for the crimes they have committed, thus making sure that their return to the community, after the crime they have committed, does not go unfulfilled.
MS TUCKER (3.40): I will make a couple of comments with regard to the alternatives to prison and the importance of supporting them. The Australian prison