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Corrections and Rehabilitation – Custodial Inspector

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Monday, 6 June 2022

Tags: Corrections, Custodial Inspector

Dr WOODRUFF - Minister, on the Custodial Inspector's annual reports on the department's progress towards its recommendations from various annual reports, can you please provide us with an update on the responses to the Custodial Inspector's recommendations that have not yet been reported as completed in the annual reports. I believe these would include relating to food and nutrition inspection report and the resources and systems inspection report, the capacity utilisation review 2021 and the lockdown review 2021. As well as talking about the ones that have not been implemented yet, which ones are still outstanding.

Ms ARCHER - Yes. I start by saying I welcome the custodial inspector's report. It was our Government that actually created the position of custodial inspector and that demonstrates our willingness to respond to at times a very open and honest account of what might or might not be occurring. By the time the report gets released some of the recommendations have already been remedied by my department. We often say that in our response. Unfortunately, the media only picks up on the negative, but does not actually report on things that - our response to a report has said.

You have referred to a lot of reports, so I can either take things on notice or I can talk generally and talking generally, I can say our Government's committed to responding to all of the recommendations, some of which, as I said, will have already been addressed. Other things are in motion or take longer to address. Some, of course, we actually correct because there may be some incorrect things in a report, for example, the food and nutrition where there was a report we did not provide certain dietary requirements to certain prisoners and was on one account incorrect and the department corrected that. There are instances where we do not always agree entirely with the recommendations, but in most instances, we do and act to correct those.

Dr WOODRUFF - Would you like to put that on notice so you can provide more.

Ms ARCHER - Yes, how many reports have you referred to?

Dr WOODRUFF - Four reports.

Ms ARCHER - You probably need to be specific here and unless you can be specific and then put it in writing at the committee, I cannot answer things that are going to be overly complex, because they are not specific enough.

Dr WOODRUFF - I specifically asked which ones have not been fully implemented yet from those four reports.

Ms ARCHER - In those four reports.

Dr WOODRUFF - I accept there is a lot of detail. Perhaps it is better if I put it on notice, is that all right?

Ms ARCHER - The problem with just identifying which ones have not been acted on is that it will require some time for my department to go through why, because sometimes there is a reason as to why. It might be as simple as we have already done it or it is not possible for a particular reason, but we will endeavour to answer those questions, if you can be specific.

Dr WOODRUFF - Thank you. The Custodial Inspector 2019 20 Annual Report contained a number of details about the department's progress towards the inspection recommendations he made in that report. That report also said the annual reports of the custodial inspector will no longer include the progress updates on the department's implementation of recommendations from previous reports but that will instead be posted on the custodial inspector's website. As far as we can see that has not happened yet and there is a gap in reporting for Tasmanians. Can you please advise when - if you understand what the hold up is and when that will commence and also whether that material would be any way tabled in parliament?

Ms ARCHER - I might just ask the secretary.

Ms WEBSTER - Dr Woodruff, was that the custodial inspector's website you are referring to?


Ms WEBSTER - That would be a matter for them.


Ms WEBSTER - I can certainly ask that question.

Ms ARCHER - I just found a figure also that might assist you, Dr Woodruff. It is only general, but of the overall 381 recommendations made through custodial inspector reports 224 have been completed.

Dr WOODRUFF - Over what time period?

Ms ARCHER - I do not know. Before the recommendations.

Dr WOODRUFF - There's lots of reports and lots of - I mean, sorry.

Ms ARCHER - Just if that assisted for the record of all the reports that is what I am providing. I have never had someone actually not want information, but anyway.

Dr WOODRUFF - I suppose - no, it is really about what is not being implemented yet that is the critical issue.

Ms ARCHER - If you would like to direct some specific question, Mr Wise is probably able to answer some in relation to some reports.

Dr WOODRUFF - Through you to Mr Wise, thank you.

Ms ARCHER - In relation to which reports, though?

Dr WOODRUFF - The reports I noted were the food and nutrition inspection report, the resources and systems inspection report, the capacity utilisation review and the lockdown review.

Ms ARCHER - Since we are not able to answer I am happy to take it on notice, because it is a very detailed question.

Mr WISE - We can obviously take all of those on notice.

Ms ARCHER - We either take it on notice or we answer. Is it better to take it on notice?

Mr WISE - I have all the details, for the food and nutrition report, there were 20 recommendations and we have completed four, and three are in progress, five are progressing slowly on top of that. The rehabilitation reintegration report, 38 recommendations. We have done 30 of them. 79 per cent of those. Eight of them are progressing with slight delays.

Ms ARCHER - Can you perhaps explain why there are delays so that it is not misinterpreted.

Mr WISE - Some of the delays are simply budgetary and some of them are at capacity to implement lots of recommendations. 381 recommendations all up from the custodian inspector's reports. Then some of them have significant budgetary implications and there are competing priorities. Some of the recommendations we have not progressed so far are things like extending the store for canteen, building a physiotherapy suite at Risdon, building a radiology suite at Risdon. Building a young offender's unit and so on. They are recommendation that take a lot of planning and with a large capital build at the moment -

Ms ARCHER - They are infrastructures.

Mr WISE - They have to sit in a priority list.

Ms ARCHER - I think what we are saying Dr Woodruff is some of those are really long-term recommendations because we can't just click our fingers and build infrastructure when we have already a very ambitious $400 million infrastructure investment in this portfolio alone because of the southern remand, the northern correctional facility, the common facility such as the kitchen, the gatehouse, the visitor's centre and the health centre. There are lots of components we are already investing in and these things require further investment that we will look at.

Dr WOODRUFF - But there is no investment commitment in the forward Estimates to doing any of these things. There is no investment commitment in the forward Estimates to a young offender's unit for example.

Ms ARCHER - Sometimes the custodial inspector makes recommendations we cannot achieve. For example there is limited capacity on the Risdon site for infrastructure. A lot of it is areas that we cannot build on. It may look vast, but there are areas through Aboriginal heritage and other reasons, we cannot build on. And there is one section I have looked at now and we have announced for a maximum-security unit, to take pressure off maximum security and to take that out of the northern correctional facility to focus on more on a therapeutic and rehabilitation and education training model for the north. It is going to be -

Dr WOODRUFF - This is the result of eight years -

CHAIR - Dr Woodruff, the call will be going to Mr Wood next.

Dr WOODRUFF - Of tough on crime rather than rehabilitation.

Ms ARCHER - It is actually a result of the failure of former governments.

Dr WOODRUFF - No, it is not.

Ms ARCHER - There was actually a Greens minister and he shut down Hayes prison farm.

Dr WOODRUFF - Everything was going well under a Greens corrections minister.

CHAIR - Order.

Ms ARCHER - It wasn't actually, it was going downhill.

Ms O'CONNOR - Thank you, Chair. Minister I have some questions about the homicide offender recidivism a rapid evidence assessment report which was published by the Custodial Inspector. We're interested in the genesis of this report: was it something that the department had an interest in or is it an area of interest for the inspector and are we likely see more rapid evidence assessments? Are there currently any planned?

Ms ARCHER - I would have to ask the department about who initiated that. I would say it's the Custodial Inspector. Mr Thomas, do you recall that one?

Mr Thomas actually deals very closely with the Custodial Inspector and we actually do now have a designated staff member to deal with the Custodial Inspector to break down any barriers and to address the recommendations. I should have added that further to my answers prior to lunch, because it is important to point out that we obviously take it very seriously, and we want to comply with all the recommendations.

But we also want to make sure that there is clear communication to the Custodian Inspector of what things have already been acted on, because often there is a real time lag between the date of inspection, and therefore the information that is in the report, and we may have already addressed something that ends up in the report, and then it gets reported, and it is a problem that has already been addressed.

What was your second question, sorry, Ms O'Connor?

Ms O'CONNOR - I have another question based on that report. I will ask that question, because you could possibly wrap up the answer.

Is the Homicide Officer Recidivism: A Rapid Evidence Assessment report something the Custodial Inspector will be taking further, as far as you know, in terms of recommendations or informing future inspections? Does the department have a response to the conclusions drawn in the report?

In particular, we are interested in why the report concluded in respect of violence prevention programs, quote: 'What such programs look like in Tasmania are unclear'.

Ms ARCHER - Ms Webster can answer the initial part.

Ms WEBSTER - Thank you, Attorney-General. My understanding is that it was a research paper undertaken by the Custodial Inspector. We do not have a response as yet.

Ms ARCHER - So, it is not a normal report that had recommendations. I was wondering why it was not brought to my attention.

Ms O'CONNOR - The report raises the issue of whether there are any effective violence-prevention programs in Tasmania, because the report is clear that it is unclear what such violence-prevention programs might look like.

Ms ARCHER - Are you talking about with the offenders? To stop them -

Ms O'CONNOR - Yes.

Ms ARCHER - In Community Corrections, we certainly have programs like that.

Ms O'CONNOR - You would think the Custodial Inspector would know about that, and it is interesting that he pointed to a deficiency in violence prevention.

Ms ARCHER - We do. Pauline, could you come up? It is really important to at least describe what we have got going on in Community Corrections.

Ms O'CONNOR - But this is homicide offenders.

Ms ARCHER - Look, I know.

CHAIR - Attorney-General, would you mind introducing the person at the table for us.

Ms ARCHER - We have Pauline van Adrichem, Director of Community Corrections.

This may not specifically relate to those extreme cases. There is the Violence Prevention Program, which commenced for the first time in 2021.

Ms O'CONNOR - Does that relate to Community Corrections only?

Ms ARCHER - No, this is Prison, with the first participants of this nine month high-intensity program graduating in December last year. The Violence Prevention Program was developed in South Australia and New Zealand to align with the use of the violence risk scale assessment in the first high-intensity general violence program at the TPS.

I may have called Pauline up to the table unnecessarily, but that is obviously an intervention program. We have similar ones available in Community Corrections for lesser offences than that.

Was that in response to that research paper?

Ms WEBSTER - No, it was not directly in response to that paper.

Ms ARCHER - Right. Obviously, that was there. In 2021, it was nine months; they graduated in December, so it commenced in March 2021.

I am not quite sure if it aligns, or it happened after that paper was done, but it was not done in response to it.

It may be a case of the Custodial Inspector just not being aware of it.