Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 07 Hansard (Thursday, 4 June 2015) . . Page.. 2099 ..
agrees there are inefficiencies regarding access to employment and too much unstructured time for detainees in the AMC due to inadequate employment facilities or other activities such as organised recreation. The report also identified some gaps in the offender case management framework which the government agrees requires strengthening to improve the effective delivery of rehabilitation.
While these concerns are real and need attention, I believe it both appropriate and necessary to also draw the attention of the Assembly to the positive aspects of operations at the AMC, which have been highlighted in the audit office report. The government was pleased to see that the Auditor-General acknowledged improvements in practices that contribute to better rehabilitation services in the AMC. The improvements noted by the Auditor-General included enhanced performance in regard to case management administration, such as increased contact between detainees and case managers. The report also noted improvements in staff management and culture, evidenced by reductions in overtime, improved leave ratios and in reductions in use of force and in use of detainee lockdowns.
The audit report reflected on the fact that the number of detainees participating in vocational education and training sessions each month was higher than had been anticipated in the planning process and ROGS data reflects the ACT’s strong performance in this area. The Auditor-General has also acknowledged that considerable support is provided for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander detainees, ranging from specific programs to identified specialist positions as well as contact with external service providers and advocates.
The report also recognises the complexities in providing rehabilitative services within the AMC. It is just one facility but it accommodates all genders, both remand and sentenced detainees, and all security classifications, including variations on those classifications for separation purposes. The AMC has had a much greater proportion of higher security detainees, much greater levels of separation of detainees than in other prisons, and much higher numbers of detainees than was anticipated during the rehabilitation program planning stage.
The built form of the centre has also, to a certain extent, limited some opportunities for ongoing rehabilitation. This has, for example, presented some challenges in relation to prison industries. This has meant that, due to operational necessity, the focus of operations has been oriented towards maintaining a safe, secure and humane custodial environment. This is completely appropriate, but it has meant there has been reduced scope to further enhance existing programs and service delivery. I am happy to say, however, that the ACT government has recognised these needs and has provided significant investment in recent budgets, along with increased resources in staffing personnel towards achieving the aspirations of the original planners.
The government does have some reservations about the Auditor-General’s report. The stated intention of the audit was to be a review of rehabilitation at the AMC but did not analyse some key aspects of rehabilitation services available at the centre. The audit office focused on three primary criminogenic programs as well as looking at employment issues. It did not analyse the delivery of key rehabilitation programs related to alcohol and drug treatment. The report only included factual information about AOD and other programs at the request of ACT Corrective Services.