Member for Western Victoria
Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party

Prisoner Reintegration Programs

My adjournment debate is for the Minister for Corrections in the other place. I recently met with the minister to discuss a number of things, and one of those was the current status of programs within our prisons. It is something I have frequently spoken about in this place. Most prisoners will leave prison—that is a fact—but what we do with prisoners whilst they are incarcerated is very important. This includes ensuring they have adequate access to programs that aim to rehabilitate and reintegrate them back into the community. Understandably over the last few years during COVID offenders have been doing most programs via audiovisual link. I say ‘most’ as some programs have not been able to take place due to their face-to-face nature. I think we are all aware that working with someone face to face is much more beneficial than speaking to someone through a computer screen—not only is it more engaging, but it allows those running the program to pick up on the mannerisms and behaviours of the prisoner. When I spoke to the minister, she indicated that the government were currently exploring how they can get programs back running in prisons. In my eyes it is pretty straightforward in that those seeking to enter prison for the purposes of providing services should get a rapid antigen test or even a PCR test within 72 hours of entering or similar. Given such program providers will likely need to be vaccinated and every prisoner has had the opportunity to also be vaccinated, the likelihood of transmission is markedly low. When you consider that prison staff and custodial officers have been entering prisons daily throughout the whole pandemic for extremely obvious reasons, I am sure we can find low-risk ways of having program providers entering prisons as a matter of urgency. Therefore the action that I seek is for the minister to reinstate face-to-face programs in Victoria’s prisons as a matter of urgency


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