Page 525 - Week 02 - Wednesday, 15 February 2017

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last sitting day in August 2017. As I indicated in my earlier remarks, the reason for that is that there is some work underway at the moment. I am not quite in a position to outline that to the Assembly, primarily because we do not have an actual answer at this point.

There are a number of options which are being explored. But I am very happy in light of the interest shown by Mrs Jones and the important issues that she has raised to come back to the chamber in August and provide a more comprehensive response. I commend my amendment to the Assembly.

MRS JONES (Murrumbidgee) (5.25): I am happy to speak to the amendment and close the debate. In relation to the amendment, I appreciate the minister accepting the vast majority of the motion. However, I will go to the detail again of why I am fairly certain that there are constraints written in by paragraph 2(a). I will just check the version to make sure I am looking at the right version. Yes, it is paragraph 2(a), according to the notice paper. This is where I note that there are current constraints. This has been taken out of the version in the amendment that the minister has moved.

Also, with regard to paragraph 1(g), which states that there is currently disadvantage for the women compared to the men essentially, this is very clear. They do not have access to the work programs that the men now have access to. I am really pleased to hear that there is a possibility that this will be addressed. I would like to think that perhaps in the way that the Indigenous population in prison gets additional attention, just because the women’s numbers are smaller perhaps is a reason to put additional resources into that area, not simply to say that it is difficult, although I accept that it must be difficult.

However, intensively working with these women must be going to have a positive effect in the community. We want a greater commitment from the minister to accept that there are, in fact, constraints, which I think essentially he has accepted in his speech.

The minister noted that there are 29 beds. If I did not mishear, I believe the minister said that we have occasionally had 32 women. I am not sure exactly where they are accommodated when there are only 29 beds for the women in the cottages which are the women’s prison. I presume that may mean they are accommodated in the single cell section of the facility. I would be happy to find out more. I am sure the minister will make briefings available to me about that.

As a result, I will not support the amendment. I appreciate that it maintains the vast majority of my motion. In the end, we will probably get to a position where the vast majority of it is still there. But I cannot accept that we should not make a statement that there are constraints and that the women are, in a way, disadvantaged. That seems to me to be basic fact.

I am really glad to hear that there is a good awareness that women’s incarceration is increasing across the country and across the world. It is a concerning matter. Any incarceration increases are, of course, a concern. I am not surprised to hear that it is difficult to pinpoint why. I agree. I hope there will be more work done in this area,

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