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Corrections – Rehabilitation Programs

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Wednesday, 25 November 2020

Tags: Justice, Corrections

Dr WOODRUFF - In relation to the Custodial Inspector's Rehabilitation and Reintegration Inspection Report released in March this year, the Custodial Inspector reports that 'very few programs are now delivered in TPS facilities', and that frequent lockdowns are limiting access to programs unit IT staff to the extent that he says, 'No programs have been delivered at Risdon Prison complex in the 2020 calendar year to date' - March 2020.

Minister, the Custodial Inspector has made a number of important recommendations about how to improve rehabilitation prospects and I will read a couple of the significant ones. The education recommendations he makes are to review course delivery to determine why completion rates are low; to reintroduce peer tutor support in all facilities; to make available certificate courses in music and art; and to adequately resource the integrated offender management unit to address wait times and meet the needs of prisoners with disabilities

It is a long list, minister; I have just selected the most significant ones. Will you commit to implementing the Custodial Inspector's recommendations as soon as possible and speak to a time line and budget?

Ms ARCHER - I can inform you that all but one of the recommendations in that report are supported by the Department of Justice and significant progress with respect to many of the matters referred to in the report has already occurred. The reason a lot of that has already occurred is because sometimes there will be crossover with recommendations.

The inspections for the report were conducted in October 2018, almost two years ago, and it was across four of the state's prisons so it included Risdon Prison Complex which is medium and maximum, Ron Barwick Prison which is minimum and medium, Mary Hutchinson Women's Prison and Hobart Reception Prison.

We get a number of recommendations and a number of reports and I know there's been recent tabling of at least four from the Custodial Inspector. I can report that the Tasmania Prison Service has appointed a senior policy officer who commenced recently and has the role of ensuring a coordinated response to recommendations from the Custodial Inspector, because as you can appreciate, every time there is a report there's a number of recommendations. The TPS senior managers also meet specifically to review recommendations from the Custodial Inspector and to progress actions on a monthly basis, and this is reviewed in their weekly performance and compliance meetings.

The report considered and made 39 recommendations with respect to rehabilitation and reintegration, specifically individual case management offender programs, education preparation for release and employment, and as I stated, all but one of these recommendations are supported by the department.

Dr WOODRUFF - And the budget and time line for implementing them?

Ms ARCHER - As to time line, I think I need to defer to the department because they are the ones working on this.

Ms WEBSTER - Some of those recommendations would already have been implemented. I think there were 25 existing.

Dr WOODRUFF - What does that mean?

Ms WEBSTER - That they already existed within the TPS. Quite often there's a bit of a lag between the Custodial Inspector visiting the prison and putting the report out, so in between that time that work may have already been conducted or they may have already been in place. The purpose of the policy officer the minister mentioned is to make sure that we have a comprehensive understanding of where each of the recommendations are and the time lines for that. We are currently working through that process now with all of those reports.

Ms ARCHER - And that's done with the Custodial Inspector's office so we get a more accurate picture of what's going on in the process. Also, as Ms Webster has just highlighted, it's important to note that a number of these things are already being carried out because in the interim from the inspection to the report being released, the Custodial Inspector raises these issues. Mr Thomas meets personally with the Custodial Inspector as well quite frequently. He always tries to make himself available, so a lot of these things are discussed even before the report is handed down and are already being activated.

Dr WOODRUFF - Could you provide the information to us about which ones have been fully implemented already, according to the Custodial Inspector, and then the time line for the other ones?

Ms ARCHER - I am being told it is public information already.

Dr WOODRUFF - Thank you, I'll put that on notice.