Page 4659 - Week 13 - Tuesday, 31 October 2017

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I move:

That the Assembly take note of the paper.

Debate (on motion by Mrs Jones) adjourned to the next sitting.

Alexander Maconochie Centre—accommodation for female detainees

Ministerial statement

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) (11.36): I wish to update the Assembly on a recent development for our female detainees in the Alexander Maconochie Centre. Members are aware of the issues the AMC has been facing lately in terms of the rising numbers of female detainees, particularly those on remand.

As at the 30 June 2016 prisoner census, the ACT female imprisonment rate had increased by 30 per cent. There was no change in the female detainee numbers at the 2015 prisoner census from the 2014 prisoner census. Between December 2016 and May this year, female detainee numbers increased by 52 per cent. While this issue has emerged relatively quickly, we cannot rely on it receding equally quickly and we must make arrangements to respond to this trend. I have been transparent about the strategies to manage this increase, including accommodating women in the management unit and in the crisis support unit.

On Tuesday, 28 November, ACT Corrective Services will relocate female detainees from their current accommodation into one of the new accommodation units in the AMC. No longer will women be split between cottages, the management unit and the crisis support unit. Instead, female detainees will move to a 57-bed accommodation unit, which is set out in three wings of 19 beds each. This move addresses the ongoing problem of having a number of women occupying beds which are not intended for permanent living and addresses the current overcrowding issues faced by women. The new accommodation area has the capacity to cater for detainees of multiple classifications and to separate those with non-association issues.

The current arrangement of housing women within the management unit has presented some logistical difficulties for women accessing programs and education. Having women located in the one area of the AMC will mean more efficient access to programs, education, recreation and employment opportunities. Some programs and education will be provided in rooms located within the accommodation area. It also means there will be a reduced need for staff to escort individual women around the centre in order to attend specific programs. This is both a better use of staff time and a better way to deliver services for women.

The new accommodation is in close proximity to the recently constructed multipurpose recreational facility and the bakery. There are currently seven women employed in the bakery, working five days per week for around six hours a day.

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