Page 3309 - Week 11 - Tuesday, 22 September 2015

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However, the Corrections Management Act currently prevents the identification of detainees who provide a random drug test sample. These tests are carried out by generating 10 randomly selected detainee identification numbers per month, with the detainees then tested but no record kept of which detainee provided which sample. At the moment the information gained from this process can only be used for statistical purposes, in particular to provide data about the prevalence of drug use within the prison that can in turn be used to facilitate research papers or inform operational policy. The amendment in the bill does not mandate that an alleged disciplinary report be made for a detainee returning a positive sample; rather it is one more possible tool to use for detainee management, including informing how therapeutic interventions should be best focused in ACT correctional centres.

Currently, a number of programs are run at the Alexander Maconochie Centre to address substance abuse and addiction. The act as currently drafted impedes Corrective Services’ ability to divert drug users to these programs because drug users cannot be identified by way of a random drug sample. All Australian jurisdictions use random drug testing and most provide that a positive test result from random testing can be addressed by disciplinary action. This is also true for many international jurisdictions such as New Zealand, the United States and the United Kingdom.

In line with the amendment to the legislation, Corrective Services will also modify policy and operational procedure, requiring officers to consider referral of detainees who return a positive targeted or random drug test for appropriate health and/or rehabilitation treatment, and consider commencing a disciplinary process. These changes will recognise that drug testing is an operational response focused on safety and detainee management and that it provides an opportunity to improve therapeutic responses.

I have directed that ACT Corrective Services work closely with members of the AMC health policies and services advisory group on the revised policy to ensure that any such referrals are evidence based and effective. This group, which includes Health officials, NGO representatives and client representatives, has begun this process and will input to the finalisation of the policy in the coming weeks.

It should be noted that if a positive result is returned from a random drug test and a disciplinary proceeding follows, as with any disciplinary decision, the detainee may ask that the decision of the presiding officer be internally reviewed under the act. Following this, an external review mechanism is available.

The second amendment to the Corrections Management Act is to clarify that an interstate leave permit can be renewed for seven-day periods to ensure appropriate mechanisms are in place to allow a detainee to stay interstate for a genuine purpose for a period longer than seven days. A detainee may need to remain interstate for longer than seven days if they require a health service that cannot be provided in the ACT, or it may be appropriate for the detainee to receive certain treatment outside the territory.

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