WCHM was pleased to see that the Government has released it’s response to the Inspector of Correctional Services’ Report of a Review of a Correctional Centre: Healthy Prison Review of the Alexander Maconochie Centre 2019 which was tabled in the ACT Legislative Assembly on 26 November 2019.
WCHM informed the Healthy Prison Review by collating the views of women in the AMC, assisting them in writing a submission from them to the Healthy Prisons Review, contributing our own submission to the Healthy Prison Review and assisting community services who support women in the prison or when they are released from the prison to prepare a separate submission.
The Minister’s Statement acknowledged that the situation of female detainees is a recurrent issue, and that the areas of concern in the Healthy Prison Review included lack of opportunity for safe recreation (i.e. free from verbal abuse/comments of male detainees), lack of a structured day, lack of opportunity to engage in meaningful work, inadequate number and variety of programs being run for women, and women being disadvantaged in relation to access to rehabilitation and release preparation services.
He advised that in addition to the development of a long-term plan for accommodation of women at the AMC and of the Women Offenders Framework, the ACT Government is committed to enhancing the experience of women at the AMC and recognises the need to meet the objectives of a gender responsive correctional environment. ACT Corrective Services will continue to refine service delivery at the AMC and identify opportunities to better meet the diverse needs of women, noting that there are some significant challenges to be resolved with regard to such a small and disparate cohort.
WCHM was pleased that work has already commenced at the AMC to establish an internal Women’s Steering Committee and we have also been invited to be a member of a broader external Women’s Reference Group which is being formed to better engage with the community sector to further explore opportunities to engage with the women in the AMC more constructively.
The Government response also indicated that the work with the Women Offenders Framework and the Women Offenders Reference Group will further review opportunities for women to work within their unit.