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Source: Australian Capital Territory – State Government

Released 11/03/2020

A settlement has been reached in the ACT Administrative and Civil Tribunal (ACAT) regarding a drawing in a staff area of the Alexander Maconochie Centre (AMC) that resulted in a referral to the Human Rights Commission.

“It is extremely disappointing that one staff member’s action has so significantly undermined the professionalism and reputation of ACT Corrective Services and my staff,” Corrective Services Commissioner, Mr Jon Peach, said today.

“The vast majority of my staff are highly dedicated and professional. They work in a challenging environment and are committed to carrying out an important service. They strive to both maintain community safety and improve the welfare of individuals within the corrective services system.

“It must be acknowledged, however, that there are a small number of staff who do not display this same commitment or the level of professionalism, integrity and respect for those in our care that the community should expect from our service. I wish to reaffirm that these people do not have a place in ACT Corrective Services,” Mr Peach said.

The drawing, from 2018, which was located in a staff-only area of the AMC, featured a ‘hangman game’ containing letters similar to the name of a detainee.
“ACT Corrective Services is currently undergoing significant reform to ensure that our operations are focused on maximising opportunities for offenders to positively change their lives. A fundamental element of this is the provision of a safe and secure environment where all people are treated with humanity.

“It is my expectation that ACTCS employees act with integrity, decency and respect at all times. This type of behaviour is abhorrent and reflects badly on all those staff that do the right thing every day. There is no place for it within ACTCS and it will not be tolerated.

“Any staff member who cannot meet these basic expectations, should rethink their career with ACT Corrective Services,” Mr Peach said.

ACT Corrective Services wrote to the complainant following the incident in which the Commissioner apologised on behalf of the service for the behaviour of staff. Following the settlement of this matter last week in the ACAT, ACTCS have again conveyed their sincere apology for any distress or harm the drawing may have caused.

The complainant in this case was a fellow detainee at the time, and not the detainee depicted in the drawing.

“As a society it is our duty to call out this behaviour when it happens and to convey our apology to those who are directly affected by the reckless actions of others.

Custodial officers undertake a comprehensive training course prior to commencing their duties, including training in:

  • Cultural Awareness
  • The role of the ACTCS Indigenous Services Unit including a briefing about the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody and ACTCS response
  • Diversity
  • Suicide and Self Harm
  • Human Rights, delivered by the ACT Human Rights Commission.

“I acknowledge that this incident is particularly distressing for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander detainees and for this I further offer my sincere apology,” Mr Peach said.

Quote from Minister for Corrections and Justice Health, Mr Shane Rattenbury

“I am personally appalled by this incident. It is deeply regrettable and frankly offensive. I have expressed my view to Commissioner Peach that there is no place in ACTCS for these views or actions,” Mr Rattenbury said.

– Statement ends –

Section: ACT Justice and Community Safety Directorate | Media Releases

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