Page 5471 - Week 14 - Thursday, 30 November 2017

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The committee will call for public submissions and report back to the Legislative Assembly before the last sitting day of 2018.

Inspector of Correctional Services Bill 2017

Debate resumed from 26 October 2017, on motion by Mr Rattenbury:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

MRS JONES (Murrumbidgee) (5.48): The Canberra Liberals are broadly in support of the Inspector of Correctional Services Bill 2017 put forward by the Minister for Corrections. We will offer one amendment at the detail stage. The bill has come about as a result of the review into the treatment of Mr Steven Freeman, who died whilst in custody at the Alexander Maconochie Centre. Mr Philip Moss AM, who was commissioned to undertake a review, released his report So much sadness in our lives to the minister on 7 November 2016.

The Moss review was commissioned after this death. It was tasked with looking into the treatment of Mr Freeman whilst in custody. The report documented the key events of Mr Freeman’s time in custody, including that within hours of his arrival at the AMC Mr Freeman was assaulted severely and was rushed to hospital by ambulance. His injuries were so severe that he spent nine days in hospital. After his prolonged hospital treatment, he returned to the AMC and never left, dying one year later in the facility.

The review went on to note a number of failings in the AMC. It noted that the AMC did not follow up after his head injury with medical appointments, nor did it revisit early advice from ACT Corrective Services regarding the nature of his injuries. The review also notes Mr Freeman’s boredom while in custody—a topic we have discussed in this place just this week—the lack of rehabilitative opportunities and a structured day for detainees.

It said that detainees often engaged in a couple of hours of rehabilitative programs, rather than the originally planned 30 hours per week. Mr Moss concluded that this lack of a structured day increased the possibility of detainees using and seeking illicit drugs. This is backed up by over 700 items confiscated last financial year.

I would also like to note that until I requested that the minister collate a list of recommendations made for the facility there did not seem to be such a list with the appropriate effort going into ensuring that every single one of the agreed recommendations was being implemented.

I have not seen any indication that, prior to my request in a motion at the beginning of this term of the Assembly, the minister was keeping such a close eye on the progress of implementing these recommendations. However, we have now come to this point where this inspector of correctional services is on the table and I welcome that.

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