Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2005 Week 13 Hansard (Wednesday, 16 November 2005) . . Page.. 4266 ..
There are prison-based syringe programs in Switzerland, Germany, Spain, Moldova and Kyrgyzstan and they are soon to be introduced in Italy, Portugal and Greece. Canada is also looking into the provision of syringes in prisons. It seemed very important to Mr Ryan that countries like Canada, New Zealand or Britain should have such a program before we consider it. Well, Canada is looking at it.
In current programs, 98 to 100 per cent of syringes are returned by prisoners, there were no incidences of needles being used as weapons, there were no new infections of any blood-borne viruses, the consumption of drugs either remained stable or decreased—it is important there be programs to assist prisoners to get off drugs—and there was a significant reduction in the number of overdoses that occurred.
We are talking here about having the provision of a service similar to what people would have outside. We have good needle exchange programs outside prisons but we can blow it all if once people get in there they have to revert to this very dirty and dangerous practice of sharing needles, with the kinds of power games that go with some people having that equipment and others not.
I just want to point out that Mr Stanhope, who is another person who has said in the media that he has got concerns about safety issues, said in 2002 that no prison or remand centre in the world had been able to achieve the goal of preventing needles entering remand and detention centres. Mr Ryan of corrective services also said that only by eliminating contact visits and isolating prisoners will we keep drugs out of corrective institutions.
MRS BURKE (Molonglo) (6.12): Yesterday during question time Ms Porter asked the Minister for Disability, Housing and Community Services, Mr Hargreaves, to advise the assembly how the ACT performed in the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare’s public housing national social housing survey 2005. The minister informed the Assembly that, since the last survey of 2003, Housing ACT, through the efforts of its staff and management, had performed well in relation to tenant satisfaction via an improvement in figures from 59 per cent in 2003 to 65 per cent in 2005, with the level of dissatisfaction falling three per cent to 14 per cent.
Not only do I support this improvement; I agree with the minister and would say that I have confidence in the staff of Housing ACT. In addition, I would say that it would be encouraging to see the level of satisfaction continue to be maintained at this level or rise further. I agree with the government that its initiative Raising our Voice and the subsequent allocation of $90,000 to assist with projects designed to support tenant participation will also assist Housing ACT to see further improvement in the negotiations and liaison that occur between the department and housing sector groups and so further solidify relationships between staff and tenants.
I flag a note of caution here, in that the minister says that they will be able to apply for a slice of the $90,000. I simply hope that those people will get a sizeable slice of that pie and that their efforts will not be dissipated because of lack of funding. I hope that it is not going to be spread too thinly.