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Alleged Assault of Aboriginal Man in Police Custody


Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Wednesday, 26 October 2022

Tags: Aboriginal Tasmanians, Corrections, Police

Dr WOODRUFF question to MINISTER for CORRECTIONS and REHABILITATION, Ms ARCHER

I am sure you agree the allegations a young Aboriginal man was assaulted while in custody at Hobart Remand Centre and denied medical and legal assistance are very serious. The man's family and the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre say both police and custodial officers were involved. An initial review of CCTV footage has been undertaken by Tasmania Police Professional Standards, which decided no immediate action will be taken. Given the history of brutality experienced by Aboriginal people at the hands of police and in custody, you would understand why this response is not satisfactory. The Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre is calling for an independent investigation into this matter conducted by a former member of the judiciary.

As minister for Corrections can you advise us of any steps you or your department has taken with regard to allegations about assaults by Tasmanian Prison Service employees? Will you as Attorney-General heed the calls of the TAC and appoint an independent investigator to review the full chain of evidence?

 

ANSWER

Mr Speaker, I thank the member for Franklin for her question. Corrections and Rehabilitation is the title, a very important addition to the name and the action taken in this portfolio.

As the Minister for Police, Fire and Emergency Management, Mr Ellis, said yesterday, the matter was under investigation.

Also, the Hobart Reception Prison is its proper title. We now have a remand centre called the Southern Remand Centre at the Risdon Prison site. I just make that correction.

Although in this instance I am aware it is an investigation that needed to be carried out by police because of a police custody issue, I will allow that investigation to continue and will look at whether action needs to be taken under the auspices of my portfolio at that point in time. Nothing has come to me at this point in time.

Members may or may not be aware that alleged offenders coming into custody are not necessarily directly under the Tasmania Prison Service straight away until there is a processing arrangement that occurs. I will need to look into that, and indeed the investigation, and allow it to take its course.

There are a number of issues in Dr Woodruff's question, and a very general broad question about allegations of assault by correctional officers. I do not know of any that Dr Woodruff may be referring to in relation to correctional officers on -

Dr Woodruff - In this incident, I understand.

Ms ARCHER - Tasmanian Aboriginal alleged offenders. I am not sure what Dr Woodruff is actually referring to there because there has certainly been no allegations of correctional officer involvement.

Dr Woodruff - I understand that there has been.

Ms O'Connor - The TAC made the allegation.

Mr SPEAKER - Order.

Ms ARCHER - Can we let the investigation takes its course, rather than us continually having this debate in parliament? The minister, Mr Ellis, made it very clear yesterday that there is an investigation under way. Then I will look at what actions may or may not -

Dr Woodruff - It is about the prison service as well.

Ms ARCHER - Dr Woodruff, you can say it is about the prison service but that has not been determined. You do not know that.

Dr Woodruff - I am putting it to you on behalf of the TAC. It was in remand. That is why we ahve raised it with you again today.

Mr SPEAKER - Order.

Ms ARCHER - I do not know that. I will allow the investigation to take its course. If there is any involvement by Tasmanian correctional officers in any assaults on any individual, those matters are always looked into and investigated. I am certainly not aware, at this stage, of anything that Dr Woodruff has made allegations about in question time today.