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Prison NSP
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Recent Forums
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Strip Searching

Preventing Suicide in Prison & Release


So far, forums  organised by members of the Corrections Coalition have covered
the following subjects:

Hepatitis C
On Wednesday 17 June 2009 Michael Moore, CEO of the Public Health Association of Australia Prison Health spoke at a forum in the ACT assembly reception room organized by the ACT Hepatitis Resource Centre. The topic was: “Public Health: Hepatitis C, prisoners and our community”. The audio is here of the introduction by Robyn Davis, EO of the Resource Centre, and of an address by Ms Mary Porter AM, Member for Ginninderra, who sponsored the forum. Michael Moore’s address is here.  His slides illustrating the talk are here. The audio is here of the panel discussion that included  Michael Levy, Medical Director, Corrections Health ACT, Brian Dunne, Senior Manager, Community Based Corrections, Annie Madden, EO, AIVL, and John Van den Dungen, Indigenous Project Officer, AIVL.

On Tuesday 2 December 2008 Professor James Ogloff spoke on Suicide in Prisons: From Understanding to Prevention. Professor Ogloff is Professor of Clinical Forensic Psychology and Director of the Centre for Forensic Behavioural Science at Monash University and Director of Psychological Services at the Victorian Institute of Forensic Mental Health, Thomas Embling Hospital.  He was formerly the Director of Mental Health for British Columbia Corrections in Canada. In that role he developed and implemented a comprehensive mental health service system for prisons, which included suicide screening and prevention. Mary Porter, AM, MLA, sponsored the forum in the Legislative Assembly Reception Room. Roslyn Dundas, director of ACTCOSS was in the chair. VYNE @ OZHELP and the Coalition jointly organised the event. Listen to Professor Ogloff address here and answers to questions here

Read more about suicide and self harm both within prison and after people are released

It is imperative that there be comprehensive support services engaging the whole of government and not just Corrections. The page includes extracts from what Professor Ogloff had to say.

Stigma as an impediment to good health policy
    On Friday 14 March 2008 David McDonald, a leading consultant in social research spoke on "How fear and stigma inhibit good health policy". The Attorney-General, Simon Corbell, MLA introduced the speaker [audio here] and   participated in the discussion that followed. Ara Creswell, Director of the ACT Council of Social Service (ACTCOSS) chaired the event. The ACT Hepatitis  C Council & AIDS Action Council of the ACT organised the forum. An audio of David McDonald's presentation [Audio] and his overheads [Overheads] are available.

Diversion of young offenders from youth detention
    On Thursday 20 March 2008 Dr Julia Tresidder of the Australian Institute of  Criminology led a forum on "Exploring Diversions: Implications of the newACT Prison and Youth Detention Centre". Meredith Hunter, Director of the Youth Coalition of the ACT, which organised the event chaired it. An audio of Dr Julia Tresidder's presentation with introduction by Meredith Hunter is available here>> [Audio].

The need to pay attention to the operational regime if the prison is to promote mental health
On Wednesday 16 April 2008 Professor Ian Webster AO launched a study "Healthy or harmful? Mental health and the operational regime of the new ACT prison". Professor Webster was introduced by Mr Brendan Smyth, MLA, Deputy Leader of the Opposition & Shadow Minister for Mental Health. The  introduction by Brendan Smyth can be found here [Audio] and the launch by Professor Ian Webster can be found here [Audio] [Speaking notes]. The study can be downloaded here [ PDF file].

The provision of sterile syringes and the reduction of occupational health and safety risk in the new prison
    On Tuesday 24 June, 2008 John Ryan, Chief Executive Officer of Anex in Victoria addressed the question: "Can NSPs reduce OH&S risk in the AMC?  Syringes and Work Safety in the new ACT prison." Anex is the leading   community-based organisation promoting and supporting Needle and Syringe   Programs.  John Ryan is Chair of the Anex Needle and Syringe Programs in Prison Committee. The forum was organised by Families and Friends for Drug Law Reform. Listen to audio >> introduction, speech, questions & discussion.

     From the point of view of injecting drug users and the community as a whole, there are overwhelming public health reasons in favour of needle and syringe programs (NSPs) in prisons.  This forum focussed not on this but on the cause of most reluctance to introduce a NSP in the new ACT prison when it opens in a few months time, namely concern for the safety of staff.
    There are strong reasons to believe that in fact a NSP in prisons would eliminate the substantial number of needle stick injuries which occur during searches.


    On Monday 29 September  2008 Carmel Wise of the Canberra Rape Crisis Centre,  Jack Dalby of Service Assisting Male Survivors of Sexual Assault (SAMSA) and Dr Sandi Plummer, clinical psychologist spoke on Strip Searching in the ACT Prison including the psychological trauma and other effects on prisoners resulting from the practice. Late in August 2008 the Assembly enacted legislation to permit routine strip searching. Under the pre-existing legislation strip searching could be authorised only where there was a suspicion based on reasonable grounds. The ACT Women and Prison Group organised the event.  Here are the audio of the addresses and questions.

Speak out against strip searching which by the Attorney-General’s own  admission the practice is humiliating, intrusive and psychologically harmful  to those regularly subjected to it. Read up more about the practice here.

Forums bearing on the prison organized by Christians for an Ethical Society

The audio and transcript or other information about the following forums are available on the CES website:

1.      Professor Tony Vinson speaking on "Prisons – can they be human even rehabilitate?" 26 February 2008

2.      Simon Corbell (Attorney General for the ACT) speaking on "The new ACT Prison: What is planned and what it will achieve" and Professor David Biles speaking on "How the ACT compares:  The facts and figures on prisons and prisoners in Australia" 19 March 2008

3.      Senator Gary Humphreys, Mr Ron Cahill (ACT Chief Magistrate) and Justice Richard Refshauge speaking on "The ACT Prison, a defacto mental institution?" 12 June 2008

4.      "Access to Mental Health Care: There're people to help you out but not many to stop you falling in."  David Crosbie, CEO of the Mental Health Council of Australia and Kat Szukalska, Coordinator CYCLOPSACT, Litmus Program of Anglicare Canberra and Goulburn & Youth in the City - 30 April 2009

5.      "Mental disorder plus addiction: I can't fit in anywhere" with Prof Ian Webster, Emeritus Professor of Public Health and Community Medicine of the University of New South Wales and Deb Wybron, Convenor, ACT Women and Prison Group - 3 June 2009