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Attorney-General and Justice – Commission of Inquiry

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Monday, 6 June 2022

Tags: Commission of Inquiry, Child Safety

Dr WOODRUFF - Minister, during the commission of inquiry hearings, the department secretary, Ms Webster, was asked about whether she, for the department, had understood what child safety principles were and whether child safety principles were being embedded within her organisation. Ms Webster said no, they are not embedded. She recognised that it certainly needs to have child safety principles embedded within it and then said that we are well away from face to face with children; there are things that institutions can do at a higher level. She was asked whether, away from face to face, institutions could do things at a higher level, and Ms Webster accepted that could be the case.

Minister, why was there a prevailing belief within your department that because face-to-face services were not being provided, there was no need to enact child safety principles at a leadership level within the organisation?

Ms ARCHER - I am trying to locate my second folder, so I will answer of the top of my head. I think Ms Webster would probably like to clarify some of the questions that were put to her in the commission of inquiry. I know she was not given a chance to explain some things in the time required, and certainly in the way the questions were put.

In relation to the child safe framework, a lot of those comments were not able to be explained. Now, in relation to it certainly taking -

Dr WOODRUFF - Sorry to interrupt. Are we talking about child safety principles, or the child safety framework?

Ms ARCHER - That is basically the child safety framework.

Dr WOODRUFF - The question was specifically about the principles.

Ms ARCHER - Let me explain the process. We start off with dealing with the child safe framework, which will embed the child safety principles.

I believe what Ms Webster was explaining was that we did not have yet have that legislation, but as I explained in my opening statement, legislation is well advanced. That is not what Ms Webster was able to expand on at the time, because they moved to other questions.

The whole of this framework to implement will take three years, but the legislation will be introduced this year, with a reportable conduct scheme. We have already introduced the bill that would listen to stakeholder concerns - not least of all the children's commissioner, Leanne McLean, and she is closely dealing with us on that. It is a big complex body of work, but it is well advanced now.

I will now allow Ms Webster to clarify some of those things, because I know she probably would like the opportunity.

Ms WEBSTER - Thanks, Attorney-General. I think there absolutely is a place for those national principles throughout my agency. There are some front-facing areas of the agency, including where we take children into custody, working with vulnerable people, the courts, where we do have front-facing interaction with children, so it is very important to embed those principles.

Certainly, from an agency perspective, from a strategic perspective, it is very clear that we should be doing more to embed those principles within the organisation.

Dr WOODRUFF - Thank you, Ms Webster. Minister, if it wasn't for this commission of inquiry, by Ms Webster's evidence your department would not be embedding child safety principles at the leadership level, other than at the face-to-face organisation level. Can you tell me what you are going to do that is different, because Ms Webster's evidence was clear that it has not been a focus? She was asked whether she would accept that in relation to the Department of Justice, it was not a focus, and she said yes, she would. So, it is clear that the department has not taken that position. What are you doing differently now?

Ms ARCHER - First, I will correct you on the supposition that if it had not been for the commission of inquiry, we would not be embedding these things.

We were already advanced with our child safety framework, as evidenced by the bill going out for consultation, which was not the model that we are now pursuing, because as a result of stakeholder feedback - and specifically the children's commissioner, who I wish to thank for her incredibly valued input in this process, and for giving me the opportunity to speak to the Victorian children's commissioner, which I might add our model will be largely based on now - we were already undergoing that process, so departments will be required in any event. As to a statement made by Ms Webster, I will give her the opportunity to clarify that statement because I think that she should be given the opportunity.

Dr WOODRUFF - This was not about legislation. It was about the cultural commitment to embedding child safety principles. That was the question.

Ms ARCHER - Dr Woodruff, we cannot separate the two, because legislative requirement will require departments to follow those principles.

Dr WOODRUFF - Principles exist outside of legislation. They are national principles and the question was about why your department is not getting ahead of things and putting that first.

Ms ARCHER - Chair, I think we should give Ms Webster the opportunity to explain her comment because it has been specifically put and, as members will be well aware, some things can be taken out of context.

Ms WEBSTER - The question I answered honestly 'which had they had been a focus'. The question 'whether or not they are going to be a focus and they should be' was not the question. Absolutely, they should be; and they will be as part of the development of the Children and Youth Safe Organisations framework. Clearly, we have a way to go with that. The question was not 'should they be' or 'will they be'; the question that was asked of me was, 'had they been in the past' and I answered honestly in relation to that question.

Dr WOODRUFF - The time frame for that to happen, what you are talking about?

Ms WEBSTER - For full implementation of the Child and Youth Safe framework is three years, but there are obviously iterations of that throughout the process.

Ms ARCHER - The first step in the process is a major one, and that is the legislative framework; then the independent oversight. If you think about all of the organisations that deal with children - and it will run into the thousands - what we are looking at will be that independent oversight. I will call it a unit for the purposes of today, because obviously it does not have a name yet. It will be responsible for educating all of those organisations to comply. That includes right from the very top of large agencies like our departments, right through to your small sporting clubs, not for profits. We all know that is going to be difficult for some, because there are volunteer associations, and so there is a lot of work.

When you look at the body of work that needs to be done in educating and making sure that there is compliance before the heavy hand of the law comes down on them after a certain period of time, because that will be the case. We are taking that educative approach. Three years is not an unreasonable time.

Ms Webster answered honestly and specifically to the question that was put. It was unfortunate, I think, that that examination or that line of inquiry did not go further than that one question. I thank Ms Webster for explaining that.

Dr WOODRUFF - Attorney-General, the child safety standards legislation that you have talked about, has, been in train for a number of years now. During the commission of inquiry, Ms Webster was asked a question about the inaccurate statement that was made in some of your department's document that said that the royal commission was limited by its term of reference in that child safety standards are focused primarily on child sex abuse. That was clearly pointed out to be wrong by Ms Bennett, the legal representative for the commission of inquiry. She showed documents that showed that that is a common misconception.

The Department of Justice has had two years and the first bill had that misinformation in it and is now planning to take another three years to bring this legislation to the table.

Ms ARCHER - No, no legislation this year. The whole framework implementation is three years and we clarified that very clearly - sorry for interrupting but I am not going to accept mistruths when I have clearly given evidence today that is not the case. That is the whole framework.

Dr WOODRUFF - I will correct myself. What I meant was the implementation. One of the barriers to implementation Ms Webster talked about in the inquiry was that some parts of the sector are not ready.

Minister, this is really concerning because we heard evidence from TasCOSS, in particular, the sector is more than ready. They have been waiting for the legislation for years now. Why is there going to be another two year delay until it is implemented because children's lives and safety are, year by year as your department prevaricates, is on the line?

Ms ARCHER - Dr Woodruff, thank you. There is a common misunderstanding of how long things take to educate smaller organisations. I thought I made that very clear. As local members, we all know of many organisations, not for profit sporting organisations, that simply will not have the ability to comply and there will need to be significant amount of work done in that area. That is what we are referring to. Larger agencies, TasCOSS, the stakeholder groups that we commonly deal with on a day to day basis who have staff, I might add, and who are often part or fully funded -

Dr WOODRUFF - They are talking about the people they represent, not about their organisation. They are talking about the peak body.

CHAIR - Dr Woodruff, please give the minister an opportunity to answer.

Ms ARCHER - Yes, and what I am pointing out is that TasCOSS, I don't think - and it would not be intentional, it would not be thinking of all of the smaller organisations that they do not represent - that simply cannot comply. I might ask Ms Mignot to explain that three year process.

Dr WOODRUFF - If they cannot comply, maybe they shouldn't have -

CHAIR - Dr Woodruff, order.

Dr WOODRUFF - This is about child safety.

Ms ARCHER - Chair, it is up to me to determine how I answer a question, I would have thought. I would like Ms Mignot to be given the opportunity to explain that because Dr Woodruff is taking this out of context. It is really important evidence for the committee to hear.

Ms MIGNOT - There is an [inaudible] of TasCOSS evidence about their sector, and absolutely we did hear that sectors like TasCOSS represents, like child care sectors, the education sector, out of home care sectors are more prepared than we had anticipated. In our mapping in the last year, we have also engaged with a lot of other sectors like the small business sector where there are over 8000 businesses, we believe, who engage with children in some capacity.

These are organisations like the Play Centre, as a business, that need to come into line with child safety standards and who will equally provide or could pose risks to children if they do not comply with child safe standards. There are other engagements too in terms of small sporting organisations; the sports and rec sector do have concerns around the level of preparedness for all of their organisations. Clearly, there are within the sporting sector - very significant organisations - that support like Swimming Australia and Netball Australia. Others are much smaller and do not have that capacity.

Part of the planning for the new framework that has been undertaken is to bring those people - all of those groups - up to speed. We recognise with the preparedness, it is earlier for some, but others will need a lot of support. They may need grants, they may need resources like model policies and they may need on the ground people to come into their organisations to help them look at what their organisations are doing and where they may adjust with those child safety principles to be embedded.

Ms ARCHER - The legislation itself, will set up the independent oversight body for that because it is important it is independent of this Government as well for obvious reasons. That will be funded by Government. All of that work needs to be done. That is why the legislation this year is the first step and then the implementation phase and education phase is quite significant.

If members cannot recognise that this takes time - I don't think those sorts of things can happen overnight, and it would be unreasonable to suggest that an organisation in our local electorate can simply comply overnight. They cannot, and they are going to need a lot of assistance for that. It is a stepped process of setting up the legislation, and then the independent oversight, who will then be charged with all of this work which is, as Ms Mignot has just said, quite significant.

Dr WOODRUFF - There will be a phase-in period of three years. Is that what the legislation is proposing for organisations to be required to take up the child safety framework?

Ms ARCHER - Legislation isn't of course operational until it receives proclamation, so we will need to determine when it should be proclaimed. I will defer to Ms Mignot on that.

Ms MIGNOT - In broad terms, the plan is that the legislation needs to pass first, and it will be introduced by the end of the year. If that does indeed progress, the next step will be to establish the body that becomes the independent regulator and oversight body for the Child Safe Standards and the reportable conduct scheme.

Once they are in place and they can provide that sector guidance in terms of how they are going to operate, then we start with those organisations that would normally form part of the oversight of the reportable conduct scheme. The reportable conduct scheme usually has different oversight bodies or oversight subjects than the Child Safe Standards, which are much broader.

As the last phase of that - after bringing in your reportable conduct group in tranche 1, which would be by very early or the end of 2023 - we would then move into the last group, which is effectively the group I have just been talking about, the very small group who will need additional support to come up to standard and have capability frameworks put in place.

Dr WOODRUFF - Attorney-General, you said your Government has said many times that you will not be going in advance of the commission of inquiry to make reforms.

Ms ARCHER - That is an incorrect statement by the media.

Dr WOODRUFF - That is certainly a statement that a number of ministers have made in the House when asked about particular actions that could be taken.

Ms ARCHER - I can explain that.

Dr WOODRUFF - On behalf of people who have provided testimony to the inquiry, I am concerned that you are prioritising bringing in mandatory minimum legislative reforms, tying up your staff, when there could be more time spent on bringing forward the Child Safe Standards process and putting all the resources that are needed now into bringing those 8000 organisations up to speed and making them child safe.

Ms ARCHER - I welcome your view, because many times I appear in the House and members cannot understand why we cannot get everything done in the space of six months in terms all of my reforms. I welcome that view as being refreshing that my staff might be tied up - and you are spot on, we have a massive law reform agenda. However, the mandatory minimum sentencing is something we have not needed to spend a lot of time on resourcing because it is a longstanding policy.

Dr WOODRUFF - It is an ideological position that you are taking an opportunity to put.

Ms ARCHER - Chair, Dr Woodruff is being argumentative. I just want to explain and correct what she has presumed. If ministers have said what you have said, then that is wrong. What they were meaning was that they were not going to anticipate the commission of inquiry by discussing the inquiry or participating therein.

That is different to my strong statement - and I have said this in the media - that we are prepared to not wait for the recommendations. We have obviously extended the time until mid-next year for the commission to provide their final report, and in the interim we will act on anything that comes out of the commission of inquiry.

What we have just discussed about the civil litigation process is something that has come out as a result of evidence given in the commission of inquiry by Ms Sedrinous, who acts for a number of plaintiffs of victim survivors and I am acting accordingly. I think my words and actions show that we are prepared to do things and get things done and not wait for the recommendations of the final report. Other ministers were referring to not pre-anticipating any evidence of the commission of inquiry, not the recommendations themselves. So, can I be very clear the Government will do everything we can. It was in the Premier's ministerial statement that we will not wait for the final findings of the recommendations to act.

For example, another recommendation could have been about the support provided to state servants. We are providing that support. One of the initiatives the Premier announced is providing two days' leave for a state servant to both prepare and appear before the commission. We are not waiting to be directed to do that; we have actually anticipated that this is the correct thing to do.

So, there are a number of things that are coming out of the evidence, but we are not participating in the evidence ourselves. There is quite a distinction between acting on things that we might think would be recommendations, and we are getting the things done now, rather than wait until mid next year to wait for the full recommendations. I hope I have clarified that.

Dr WOODRUFF - Thank you Mr Chair. During the commission of inquiry, the Ombudsman suggested that if a parent were to make a complaint on behalf of a child, and if that child were viewed to be capable of making a complaint themselves, that the Ombudsman may tell the complainer that the complaint should probably have come from the child themselves. Do you think this is the right approach, and do you intend to amend the act to make it easier for families to make complaints in respect of a child?

Ms ARCHER - I am just wondering which act he was referring to, because I am not aware. As you would appreciate, the Ombudsman is an independent statutory office holder who I do not direct. We just provide funding support to, and obviously we meet on a number of different issues, but I am just not, I just require some clarity on that, because it is not a Government person speaking.

Dr WOODRUFF - I think it would likely be the Ombudsman's Act, because it was the Ombudsmen speaking in relation to the powers of the Ombudsman to address a complaint, and the issue is whether a parent -

Ms ARCHER - I am not trying to be unreasonable. The reason is that the Ombudsman has a number of different acts that he is responsible for administering. RTI is one of them. He has other roles in terms of his custodial and inspectorate role, and dealing with youth detention and other issues there, so, in terms of his role to do with children it could span across a number of different areas, and that is the only reason I require clarity on the act.

Dr WOODRUFF - It is the Ombudsman's Act.

Ms ARCHER - No, that only sets up his office, doesn't it?

Dr WOODRUFF - Well, regardless, would you investigate the concerns that he has raised in the commission of inquiry that there is currently an impediment for families to be able to make complaints on behalf of the child if a child has not made the complaint?

Ms ARCHER - I think all I can do today is say that I will look into that and also confirm with him what act he was referring to. Of course I am willing to respond to anything that is recommended. That has not been raised directly by the Ombudsman to me, and so we will certainly look into that further. I don't know if Ms Webster has anything further to say about that. But, look I am certainly willing to look into it and anything that comes out of the commission of inquiry as I said.

Ms WEBSTER - No. Through you, Attorney-General, we can certainly discuss that with you, Ombudsman, but I guess the only thing I would say is that the work that we are going to do on the child and youthsafe frameworks does also include that oversight mechanism around how we ensure that there is a one stop shop, if you like, around making complaints.

Ms ARCHER - They are supported through that complaint process, as they have been with the Commission of Inquiry, so we would carry that process through.

Dr WOODRUFF - Another question from the commission of inquiry in relation to the Integrity Commission where it became clear that the Integrity Commission cannot seek external legal advice without the approval of the Solicitor-General. Mr Easton noted that being required to get legal advice from the Solicitor-General has caused him concern. If investigating a government representative who might be getting advice from the Solicitor General themselves, the Solicitor General has the job of protecting the government, and yet we have our independent investigatory body require to, also, get advice from the Solicitor General, who is protecting the person who is being investigated.

Can you agree that that is a problem, that there will be a conflict of interest essentially in providing advice, and will you look at fixing that issue that has been raised?

Ms ARCHER - Mr Chair, it is a problem that does not necessarily need fixing, because where there is a conflict, that is when the Solicitor General would allow external legal advice so that that conflict is fixed. There is that mechanism already in place, of course, it is inappropriate where there's a conflict for the Solicitor-General to act for both parties. The Solicitor-General would recognise that and would approve external legal advice. That regularly happens in numerous matters.

Dr WOODRUFF - If there's no problem why would Mr Easton have said it causes him concern?

Ms ARCHER - I can ask him why it causes him concern, but the mechanism is already there. In a conflict they would be entitled to receive external legal advice because the Solicitor-General might already be acting for the other party, that might be in direct conflict.

Dr WOODRUFF - Is there a cultural disinclination to allow that?

Ms ARCHER - No, absolutely not. I think you're making something out of nothing here, Dr Woodruff.

Dr WOODRUFF - I'm just making it out of Mr Easton's comments.

Ms ARCHER - With respect, and I don't wish to reflect on the evidence of Mr Easton because he is not here to clarify that. Members have the opportunity to request the committee at the start, if they want to question one of the independent statutory holders. I can't speak on behalf of the Ombudsman, nor do I direct him - not the Ombudsman sorry, the Integrity Commission. The act prevents me from doing that. It's not appropriate. I'll take anything into consideration as part of the reforms that we're doing for tranche 2 of the Integrity Commission. There are discussions in place with my department on those reforms. If that's something that comes up as part of that reform, we'll look at it. There is a mechanism already to recognise conflicts of interest and -

Dr WOODRUFF - I understand. You've made that point, thank you.

Ms ARCHER - It is a regular thing that occurs. There is not a culture of preventing external legal advice. In fact, it regularly is provided because of conflicts that may arise from time to time.

Dr WOODRUFF - Mr Easton, the advent of the Commission of Inquiry had its genesis in the work of the journalist, Camille Bianchi and her podcast, the Nurse, which exposed James Griffin and the conduct of numbers of government agencies.

It has been more than a year, since the podcast. In that time, the Integrity Commission could have begun an own motion investigation which would have eventuated in the commission referring the matter for a Commission of Inquiry. Instead that matter was progressed by journalists, and opposition MPs in parliament.

To you, Mr Easton, would you be able to tell us why the Integrity Commission failed to take that issue up when it was thoroughly in the public domain for that year and whether you consider, with the benefit of hindsight the Integrity Commission failed in its responsibilities by not investigating those matters?

CHAIR - I will remind members the form is the questions are through the Attorney-General. The officers may assist the Attorney-General in her answers.

Ms ARCHER - I am content for Mr Easton to address that, because it is sort of a personal allegation and an allegation concerning the Integrity Commission.

Dr WOODRUFF - It is about the Commission, it is not personal.

CHAIR - Feel free to take your mask off when you are answering questions.

Mr EASTON - The Commission received a complaint some time ago. Some of this, to be honest, this was covered last year, at this meeting. To be honest, some time has passed since then, so I am not fully conscious of how much of what I might say is confidential and how much is not. I am happy to try and answer your questions as best I can.

We received a complaint. We did put it through our complaint management system, and our mechanisms, our processes. Ultimately, during that time or actually, prior to us getting the complaint changed, Griffin died.

We did what we normally do with complaints like that. We undertake an assessment process and we talk to people. We talk to police. We talk to the Department of Health, and determine that the best way forward was for us to refer that matter to the Department of Health, given what had gone on to that point.

Subsequently, the Commission of Inquiry evolved, and came into being. There would be a point of time, where, once the Commission of Inquiry became a reality, it would be very unlikely for us to do anything with that matter. In answer to your question, there is a point where, once the Commission of Inquiry gets established, we would not investigate a matter that the Commission of Inquiry is looking at, otherwise that is duplicating things and potentially confusing things.

But in the point up until the Commission of Inquiry, then, and I just said, we did undertake several procedures and steps and ultimately referred the matter to the Department of Health.

Dr WOODRUFF - That was in relation to one particular matter brought to the Commission but the podcast, and the public conversation raised many individuals' experiences, not just one person and they alleged a systemic cultural failure to respond.

Why given that information unrelated to the matter you just referred to, wasn't that enough at that point for the Integrity Commission to take action?

Ms ARCHER - I will preface this by saying the Government has committed through the new Child Safe Framework the fact that we need to have a coordinated reporting response and that is what these sorts of matters have identified. I am very happy in relation to the Integrity Commission for Mr Easton to explain what the process was then. Moving forward from what we have heard, we have addressed that in terms of moving forward what we intend doing and that is a coordinated reporting system.

Mr EASTON - Again, trying to answer your question fully, the complaint we received was about more systemic issues. The alleged - because that is what a complaint is, it is allegations - the alleged failure to deal with reports relating to Mr Griffin and rumors and so forth. We weren't looking at a complaint relating to Mr Griffin himself directly. It was exactly those surrounding issues.

By the time we got to deal with it and we carried out our assessment, many things had already been recognised and were being dealt with, including how the hospital itself related to its own staff. That was an issue. There was a cultural issue there and a wellbeing issue with staff, quite apart from anything to do with Mr Griffin, staff failure, I guess, to feel heard.

That was recognised by the department and by the hospital itself and was being dealt with so from our perspective there wasn't a lot of benefit from us continuing with - call it a line of inquiry - that particular issue because it was already recognised. We might be able flesh out a few more details, but in our work, we usually try to build the capacity of the department itself to recognise and deal with this sort of issue. Our then-CEO's perspective was that those issues were being adequately recognised and dealt with by that department or by the hospital itself so there wasn't a value in us undertaking it further from an investigative perspective.

Whether we did no motion or not would depend on whether we felt the original complaint sufficiently covered the issues we identified. Where a complaint doesn't and we want to do something with it then we will go to the board with a no motion proposal.

Dr WOODRUFF - Thank you, Mr Easton. Attorney-General, do you accept that the failure to act by numerous agencies in the Government, the systemic failures in the State Service, were so concerning for Tasmanians because they were only brought to prominence by a journalist? People had been repeatedly shut down by agencies and there is a failure of the Integrity Commission and other bodies to be able the address these issues.

Ms ARCHER - I can't answer your question Dr Woodruff because you are going on with a question. We called the independent commission of inquiry for the very reason to get to the bottom of these things.

Dr WOODRUFF - Under extreme duress after a huge public outrage.

Ms ARCHER - No it wasn't under extreme duress at all.

Dr WOODRUFF - Well, it was. You can't rewrite history.

CHAIR - Order.

Ms ARCHER - We were the Government that was brave enough to actually hold and call for a commission of inquiry and fund one. These are systemic issues dating back also to previous governments and so collectively, we have all embraced the fact that a commission of inquiry has been needed.

Earlier in this committee, we addressed the fact that we want to see, and Ms Webster said, for want of a better description, a one-stop shop in terms of people knowing where they go to make a complaint and that it will be acted upon and that person will be supported, and that is the Child Safe Framework with the Reportable Conduct Scheme. Everything our Government has committed too and we have also committed to not only fully funding the Commission of Inquiry, but all of its recommendations.

We are a government that has stood behind this, willing to hear the very difficult evidence at times and - again I want to thank the bravery and the courage of our victim-survivors for coming forward, particularly the victim-survivor in relation to that case. An absolutely harrowing account of what occurred and quite frankly the Government, the department and the system failed that victim-survivor and many others, which is why we have called the commission of inquiry.


Ms O'CONNOR - I'll just go back to what Richard Connock said. It comes to the point that you've made about taking some questions on notice, talking about some activities in this area and some recommendations that are being implemented. He said -

The results demonstrate prolonged and persistent inadequacies in a system that have not been addressed, despite continued affirmation from the Department of Justice that recommendations are being acted on.

At what point do you think we are going to see the Custodial Inspector deliver a report that says all the rehabilitative facilities that we need are in place? There are alcohol and other drug programs there. There are violence prevention programs. At what point are you going to stop saying we are considering all the recommendations?

Ms ARCHER - I would love that day. It is a difficult portfolio, as I think members will appreciate, because it is difficult to address every problem that might exist in a prison. By reason of the nature of those who are housed in a correctional facility you have everything from remandees to unsentenced inmates to those who are classified differently.

Then we have female prisoners, with recent reports or statistics showing the biggest issue is the trauma they have experienced in their lives a lot of time as a result of family and sexual violence. We have a high incidence of that. Our response to rehabilitation of our female prisoners might be quite different and distinct to our men. One size doesn't fit all.

It is a mammoth task and it does require funding. It requires staffing. It requires infrastructure being purpose-built. That is what I am attempting to do in addressing all of that. It is difficult to do it on the Risdon site because the Ron Barwick Prison, let's face it, is mostly past its use by date. We are extending its use by upgrading areas.

We have Division 7 for our elderly and prisoners with disabilities and a unique prison environment. It was based on a design of a Californian prison. California is a desert state and Tasmania is not, so there is this big outdoor area that is freezing. We have tried to make that more warm and inviting. What I am demonstrating is we have to deal with the prison environment that we have and we also have to look at this northern facility in terms of a purpose-built modern facility that can achieve these outcomes.

Regarding the Custodial Inspector report, we have assigned staff to work with the Office of the Custodial Inspector to not only respond to the recommendations so that we tick off these things but also so that we do not get a situation where the Custodial Inspector or his staff might interview our inmates and they say something and then it gets reported in a report without there being an opportunity for our staff to say something about that situation or the director of prisons being able to respond and say we do provide a special diet for that person. Some of the complaints need corroboration. People in the department constantly say to me they don’t get that opportunity in relation to some of the recommendations. Some of them might be a little bit misinformed on occasions and so it increases the number of recommendations.

Ms O'CONNOR - There was a finding that there is inadequate, if not non-existent alcohol and other drug treatment programs.

Ms ARCHER - That is simply not right. Earlier today I went through the programs we have. We now have five new therapeutic staff dedicated to alcohol and other drugs programs and other criminogenic programs. There is that dedicated funding and they have been in place for 12 months now. We certainly announced the funding 12 months ago. It may not have been in place that long, but they are all in place and delivering programs. We definitely have programs in place. We also have programs for one-on-one treatment. We are also planning to put a live-in program to replace the old Apsley and put that in Ron Barwick ando what I was saying earlier and it will be in the Hansard is we have approached this on the basis of what we used to provide in Apsley. We now provide a much better wholistic program of different types of either one-on-one or group sessions to deliver those programs, because it is a major issue.

We have also introduced a special program in the Women's Prison because we discovered the alcohol and drug problem is just as concerning in our female cohort.