Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 06 Hansard (Wednesday, 7 June 2017) . . Page.. 2046 ..
comes home from jail, and this time stays home: for the birthday parties and the walks in the park, to cheer them on at the soccer or the footy, for bedtime stories and cuddles and all the rest.
What is the inherent worth of just one of these prisoners, Madam Speaker? I say that it is great. Each one of them is important to parents, to family, to friends and colleagues. Each one of them should be important to us. If they are important to this Assembly, then we have a right to know what the government is doing to address the rising recidivism rate in the ACT, what they plan to do, and what programs and services are currently being provided and funded.
Then appropriate improvements need to be made. It is simply not good enough to keep locking up the same people over and over and over again. Often this problem is framed from the perspective of the impact that repeated criminal behaviour has on the community. I acknowledge the seriousness of this impact, but let us also remember what unchecked recidivism does to the men and women who are cycling through our courts and correctional facilities and what it does to those who love them most. The impacts on our community reach far further than just the harm caused by the crimes committed.
Joseph Malins penned a poem in the 19th century that is still frequently cited. In it the people debate the merits of either building a fence along the edge of a steep cliff or stationing an ambulance down in the valley. When it comes to this issue, and to so many others, I vote for the fence. Let us find out what kinds of fences we already have first, and then let us fix any holes and, if necessary, build more fences: bigger, better and stronger.
People have agency, which means that nothing the government does will ever be foolproof. But I for one am not satisfied with having the highest recidivism rate of any jurisdiction in Australia. I would think that the Minister for Corrections would not be satisfied either. I hope not one person in this chamber is satisfied.
An ounce of prevention, it has often been said, is worth a pound of cure and this is obviously true when it comes to preventative medicine. But it is just as true in other areas. It is far better to help a family resolve its issues than to take the children into the care and protection system. It is far better to support conflict resolution than to let disagreements escalate until they clog up our courts. And it is far better to invest in the rehabilitation of the men and women who find themselves in jail than to just keep letting them back in. For the sake not just of our community, but of the men and women whose very lives we are discussing today, I ask the members of this Assembly to support this motion.
MRS JONES (Murrumbidgee) (5.55): I will speak to the amendments and close the debate. I thank Mrs Kikkert, Mr Ramsay and Mr Rattenbury for their words in this debate. It is an important matter to discuss. I am glad that we were able to do it in a constructive way. I am glad to understand a bit better the 22.6 per cent improvement figure. I look forward to more information about that in September if that is possible.