Page 1083 - Week 03 - Thursday, 23 March 2017

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What is being done about the increasing incarceration rates of women in the ACT.

Mr Rattenbury: The answer to the member’s question is as follows:

The demand for accommodation for women both remanded in custody and serving custodial sentences has steadily increased since the Alexander Maconochie Centre (AMC) was opened.

There are many complex factors in the broader criminal justice system that contribute to incarceration rates. Women detainees at the AMC demonstrate unique and complex behavioural and criminogenic needs. Many come from lives in the community where they have been victims of crimes themselves. They have in many cases experienced trauma and exploitation. Some of the women at AMC have poor literacy and levels of education and many have struggled with addictions. Often these women have poor health and wellbeing, and face difficulties in managing conflict.

ACTCS is committed to decreasing recidivism by 25% by 2025 as identified in the JACS Strategic Plan 2017-2019. ACTCS runs a range of rehabilitative programs aimed at addressing recidivism among the female detainee population, and preventing detainees returning to custody.

Within the AMC a range of rehabilitation programs and educational opportunities are provided for women targeting aspects of their lives such as parenting skills, building positive relationships and addressing trauma.

The Extended Throughcare program provides support beyond the end of a detainee’s custodial sentence to assist their transition back to the community and help to reduce the risk of re-offending. All women exiting the AMC, whether they were remanded or sentenced, are provided this opportunity. The program provides practical assistance with overcoming barriers surrounding detainee re-entry across five core areas: accommodation, health care, income, connections and basic needs.

ACTCS provides programs including Self Care for Women which is a Marymead program co facilitated by ACTCS and designed for women in custody, focusing on learning strategies to cope with stress and mental health, mental illness and physical health. The Out of the Dark program is another life development program designed for women who have experienced domestic or family violence. It is a 14 hour program that aims to help participants identify issues around domestic and family violence, as well as identifying options and supports available. Additionally, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women can access the Conservation Land Management program.

Additionally, the 2015-2016 ACT Budget committed $3.228 million over three years to enhance Community Corrections, including support for a new sentencing option (the Intensive Correction Order) developed as part of the Justice Reform Strategy (JRS). The JRS provided an opportunity to consider fundamental improvements to the justice system in the ACT. It has also informed further justice reform work being carried forward including measures that could be adopted to better address recidivism and ensure community safety. Intersecting with the JRS is the Justice Reinvestment Strategy, a four year program funded in the 2014–2015 Budget.

The ACT Government is currently exploring options to provide additional sustainable accommodation options for women at the AMC.

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