woman staring out at a wire fence

In February 2019 the Office of the ACT Inspector of Correctional Services (OICS) announced a call for public submissions to inform a Healthy Prison Review of the AMC to start in mid-2019.  As an organisation that works to make the views of women known, WCHM welcomed the opportunity to provide a submission to the Review, given the Centre’s focus on working with and supporting the women in the AMC.  You can read a summary of our submission here.

ACTCOSS and WCHM both held consultations between the Inspector and community sector organisations that work with detainees in the AMC.  And WCHM also supported women in the AMC to contribute their own submission to the Review, and coordinated a submission by services that work with women on their release from prison.

The Report of a Review of A Correctional Centre by the ACT Inspector of Correctional Services  was released on Tuesday, the report can be found here.  In total it provided 73 recommendations and measured against the review criteria, (Safety, Respect and dignity, Purposeful activity and Rehabilitation and preparation for release). The report found that the AMC, ‘Not performing sufficiently well against the review criteria’ on all four pillars.

WCHM was pleased that many of the issues we highlighted in our submission were picked up in the report, including a lack of access to incentives for the women in the AMC, and the lack of access to services and programs that are important to their rehabilitation and reintegration, and to opportunities for meaningful employment, work release or other contact with the community prior to their release. WCHM was also pleased to see a focus on improving the induction process and information, and the recognition of the value of a ‘peer support’ position to support new arrivals.

Many of the quotes from the submission from women in the AMC were used throughout the Report.

WCHM looks forward to the ACT Government responding to all 73 of the Report’s recommendations.

‘This The Canberra Times editorial piece describes the experience for not only women, but indeed all detainees at the AMC, as bleak. “ While indigenous women are the worst off of all the categories of inmates, the situation is almost as dire for the female prison population generally, for indigenous male prisoners and for potentially innocent detainees who can spend months on remand awaiting trial… Life is no walk in the park for non-indigenous male prisoners either.”

The ACT Human Rights Commission, Dr Helen Watchirs, also expressed concerns about the findings for female detainees at the AMC.