Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 08 Hansard (Wednesday, 16 August 2017) . . Page.. 2838 ..
There is confusion in the ranks. The Minister for Corrections says the use of the management and health units is not indefinite. The director of Corrective Services says they will look at it once they get over a capacity of 47. There is a lot of confusion which needs clearing up. All the while, essential health and crisis accommodation is being used inappropriately and not for its designed purpose.
The government must also provide the full details of the feasibility study which ACT Corrective Services is undertaking. This includes the terms of reference of the study, the estimated completion date of the study and all the accommodation options and associated costs which are being considered by ACT Corrective Services. I hope that any feasibility study will consider the employment programs and the out-of-cell activities for prisoners within the AMC. It should consider whether the housing of women in the management unit affects the daily program of the prison, whether it adds extra difficulty for staff moving inmates around the prison and, if so, whether it adversely affects opportunities for rehabilitation or alternative programs for women.
Lastly, the ACT government should provide the Assembly with full details, step by step, of what actions ACT Corrective Services will take in the event that the female population exceeds 47 and hits rates of perhaps 50, 60 or, even worse, beyond. Given the massive growth that we have experienced in the population of women in our prison and the fact that the minister has advised that plans are “well underway”, it is reasonable to expect that this level of incarceration could occur and, if trends continue, will occur. The government needs to have a plan for it. I commend this motion to the Assembly and keenly await the minister’s 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) (5.34): As the Assembly would be well aware, I have made it a habit to keep members and the broader community aware of the issues and challenges facing the corrections system. I do appreciate the considerable interest people have in our jail, and I seek to provide as much information as I can while always having to be mindful, of course, of both security and privacy considerations. By my count, I have provided 10 statements or speeches directly relevant to the AMC in my time as the minister responsible for Corrective Services, which includes specific consideration of capacity issues.
This list does not include responding to motions from those opposite on any given Wednesday, nor does it include statements and evidence given during estimates and annual report hearings, nor the information contained in the many, sometimes lengthy, responses to questions taken on notice. It does not include the written material provided in response to numerous independent reviews and inquiries undertaken by bodies such as the committees, the Human Rights Commission or, more recently, the Auditor-General’s office. I make that point because it is clear that there is a willingness on my part to discuss these issues and to provide regular updates to both this place and the general public.
Of course, the downside that was evident in the speech that Mr Wall gave is that, if you come out and put some of this stuff on the table, suddenly it is a matter of saying