Page 628 - Week 02 - Thursday, 16 February 2017

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Treatment in custody of Steven Freeman—independent inquiry

Government response

MR RATTENBURY (Kurrajong—Minister for Climate Change and Sustainability, Minister for Justice, Consumer Affairs and Road Safety, Minister for Corrections and Minister for Mental Health) (4.00): For the information of members, I present the following paper:

Treatment in Custody of Steven Freeman—Government response to the Independent Inquiry.

I move:

That the Assembly take note of the paper.

Mr Steven Freeman died in custody at the Alexander Maconochie Centre on 27 May 2016. In response, on 2 June 2016 I announced an independent inquiry into Steven Freeman’s treatment and care while in custody. The inquiry, undertaken by Mr Phillip Moss, commenced on 24 June 2016, and his report was provided to me on 7 November, under the title So much sadness in our lives. Today I present to the Assembly and the community the government response to that report.

The death of a young Aboriginal man in the care of the AMC was tragic. I acknowledge the grief and anger of the family and the broader community over the loss of Mr Freeman. I would like to assure them and the Assembly that the government’s positive response to all of the recommendations of the Moss report, and the other actions that have commenced since Mr Freeman’s time in the AMC, are designed to improve the treatment and care of all detainees.

Mr Moss made many conclusions beyond these eight defined and concrete recommendations, and again I assure the Assembly that the government will work through these conclusions as part of the implementation plan. These recommendations and conclusions have ushered in a period of transformation and will be realised through a program of continuing reform in the ACT corrections system.

The Moss report sets out clear systemic issues that must be addressed to improve the safety and welfare of detainees. Our services need better integration. Coordination and information sharing must improve between directorates and government agencies and with our non-government community service providers. In particular, Mr Moss recommends that the health care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander detainees be more closely coordinated with Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health Service.

To ensure that this recommendation is actioned, both the Justice and Community Safety and the Health directorates will begin discussions with Winnunga on the formation of a working group. It is clear that we need to work in close partnership with all local Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal providers to ensure a more holistic approach, and I am committed to achieving this.

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