Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 06 Hansard (Friday, 27 June 2008) . . Page.. 2331 ..
Question resolved in the affirmative.
DR FOSKEY (Molonglo) (10.39): We certainly had a salacious run there for a while. I guess that justice and corrections is another place where we can continue that theme. It makes me realise that we all live in different worlds in this place. This is an exciting and interesting year for the ACT, because this is the year that the Alexander Maconochie Centre opens. It has been a very interesting process and one that I have followed since before I was elected to this place. There have been public discussions and many, many consultations, and, having been a member of the legal affairs committee for just a few months, I went and had a look at the new centre. I believe Mr Stefaniak came along as well, although I am not sure. Certainly, Mr Seselja had been to the remand centre and the Symonston centre as well. We saw the stark contrast between the facilities provided for people in remand and those available at the Alexander Maconochie Centre. It is very, very clear that if a place is ever going to make a difference, the Alexander Maconochie Centre does have everything going for it in terms of physical surroundings.
I was just reflecting that there has been a lot of emphasis on infrastructure in this budget. The Treasurer constantly talks up infrastructure, yet we are in a time where we have a really bad skills shortage, so my big concern is that we have these fantastic facilities and we do not have the right people staffing them. We are aware that child protection services has a lot of trouble keeping staff, not just here but all around Australia, because of the difficulty of that work. I would think working in prisons is probably also difficult and stressful work.
It is probably going to be quite difficult to recruit people who have a different culture, because prisons elsewhere run on quite a different culture from that which is intended for the Alexander Maconochie Centre. I ran into an ex-prison officer who had a chat to me a couple of months ago, and he said that that would be the greatest challenge. Unless you get the people right, it does not really matter how good the place is. That is a real concern.
The other thing I wanted to say is that there has been a run of community meetings about the Alexander Maconochie Centre, about prisoners and about corrections in general. What is very clear is that this is a community with a lot of interest in the prison. Maybe Mr Pratt would call these people bleeding hearts, I do not know. They are people who do care about the human rights of prisoners; they are people who want prisoners to come out of that place and be able to perhaps find a different future and not reoffend. We know that recidivism is one of the biggest problems.
When I first started teaching as a 20-year-old, I was put in probably the roughest school in Melbourne—Brunswick boys tech. It was actually built like a prison, and many of my students were in and out of the boys prisons, as they were called in those days, which is how they used to treat things. Because I knew those kids as people, from that time on I developed a real compassion and an understanding. I am a bleeding heart, because I could see that those boys were being treated as factory fodder in that school. Putting me, an untrained teacher, into that school as the English-as-a-second-language teacher really says it all. There was no concern and