Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 02 Hansard (Wednesday, 21 February 2018) . . Page.. 487 ..
despite the extensive funding provided to this facility you have not been able to make the AMC live up to its human rights mandate. The issues of lack of safety and mismanagement continue to plague the prison.
Ms Julie Tongs, the chief executive of Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health Service, has highlighted these issues and has asked the government to reconsider the way the AMC collocates vulnerable people with hardcore violent criminals. Ms Tongs highlighted that the current mix is compromising rehabilitation programs and is jeopardising the jail’s goals to be human rights compliant. This view is also backed up Canberra University School of Law and Justice head Professor Lorana Bartels, who has pointed out the challenge of having all detainees, unsentenced and sentenced, max to minimum, men and women in the same facility.
Sadly it was these types of inmates who were charged with the vicious bashing of the two Indigenous brothers in August of last year. Axe murderers, prisoners with links to bikie gangs and violent career criminals should not be able to inflict grievous bodily harm on inmates at AMC. And when these incidents do occur it should be reasonable to expect that swift action be taken to notify the next of kin and prosecute these offenders.
But of course this is an area of the prison that is failing, much like the accidental release of a dangerous prisoner who was meant to remain in custody on further remand warrants. On 16 December last year, staff at the Alexander Maconochie Centre mistakenly released the prisoner from custody. It is understood that the prisoner had a dangerous and violent criminal history and his release potentially threatened the safety of members of the community. Despite this the prisoner remained in the community for approximately three days before it was realised an error had been made.
It is clear that the minister’s management of this facility is not working. Surely it is the most fundamental of prison rules: do not let inmates walk out the front door. The AMC has systemic problems. This is just the latest in the long and continually growing list. The minister ought to look at why his systems are failing and how a prisoner could possibly be allowed to go free, and advise what steps need to be taken to address this issue. This is a fundamental part of correction policies, and at the moment the minister is failing.
For too long now these issues have been highlighted by experts and leaders of the Canberra Indigenous community, and it is time that the government started listening. Action needs to be taken. That is why I support this motion today.
MR BARR (Kurrajong—Chief Minister, Treasurer, Minister for Economic Development and Minister for Tourism and Major Events) (12.19): I rise to speak in support of the comments made by Minister Rattenbury and to reaffirm that Minister Rattenbury, as Minister for Corrections, has my confidence.
MRS JONES (Murrumbidgee) (12.19), in reply: I had heard that the Chief Minister’s speech would be short. I did not realise it would be quite that short, but I am sure Minister Rattenbury is relieved.