The ACT Council of Social Service (ACTCOSS) and the Women’s Centre for Health Matters (WCHM) have welcomed the Healthy Prison Review of the Alexander Maconochie Centre 2019 report from the ACT Inspector of Correctional Services, released on Tuesday, and await the ACT Government’s response to the recommendations.
In February 2019, the Office of the ACT Inspector of Correctional Services (OICS) announced the call for public submissions to inform the Healthy Prison Review. ACTCOSS and WCHM both held consultations between the Inspector and community organisations that work with detainees in the Alexander Maconochie Centre (AMC) to inform the Review.
WCHM also supported women in the AMC to contribute their own submissions to the Review and coordinated a submission by services that work with women on their release from prison.
The Healthy Prison Review report acknowledges the commitment of ACT Corrective Services (ACTCS) staff and highlights some good practice already in place that can be built upon to improve the conditions for detainees and staff in the AMC. But it also highlights many areas for improvement, including 73 recommendations across the areas of safety; respect and dignity; purposeful activity; and rehabilitation and preparation for release.
WCHM CEO Marcia Williams said, “The report has some welcome recommendations for building on the work which is already underway to improve the situation for women detainees in the AMC, given their small numbers (compared to men) and their location in the middle of the AMC.
“WCHM’s submission highlighted a lack of access to incentives for the women in the AMC, as well as access to services and programs that are important to their rehabilitation and reintegration. This should include opportunities for meaningful employment, and work release or other contact with the community prior to release.”
Craig Wallace, ACTCOSS Policy Manager said, “ACTCOSS is pleased to see that the recommendations included in the report reflect community sector aspirations for the AMC.
“Several of the recommendations reflect significant concerns we heard during the community sector consultation with the Inspector. These include recommendations that ACTCS: maintain a consolidated strip search register; increase Naloxone access to detainees and staff within the AMC; and look for opportunities for female detainees to engage in work.
“Overall, this report reflects the strength of the OICS’ consultation process in undertaking the Review, which further compels the government to respond to the recommendations in a timely manner.”
Ms Williams concluded, “ACTCOSS and WCHM commend the OICS for conducting a substantive review of the AMC, including wide consultation with detainees themselves. This is an important step in ensuring appropriate oversight for the AMC.”
ACTCOSS and WCHM call on the ACT Government to respond to all 73 of the report’s recommendations, and look forward to working with the community sector, the OICS, and other oversight bodies to monitor the implementation and progress of these recommendations.