The ACT Council of Social Service (ACTCOSS) today expressed concern about the finding by the ACT Inspector of Correctional Services that a forced strip search of an Aboriginal female detainee did not comply with ACT human rights legislation.
The finding in the Report of a review of a critical incident by the ACT Inspector of Correctional Services, tabled in the ACT Legislative Assembly today, investigated the use of force to conduct a strip search at the Alexander Maconochie Centre on 11 January 2021.
The report follows the revelation in July that strip searches were conducted on Indigenous women twice as often as non-Indigenous women at the AMC.
Dr Emma Campbell, CEO of ACTCOSS said: “We acknowledge that difficult decisions must be made by ACT Corrective Services staff to ensure the safety of detainees and staff is protected. However, the human rights and wellbeing of detainees must be at the forefront of any decision to use force.
“We thank the Office of the ACT Inspector of Correctional Services for the thorough investigation of this incident and urge the Minister for Corrections, Minister Gentleman, to ensure that all recommendations in the report are urgently implemented.
“This report also provides more evidence of the need for a Royal Commission or similar commission of inquiry into the experiences of Aboriginal and / or Torres Strait Islander peoples in the ACT justice system and the factors that bring Aboriginal people into the system,” said Dr Campbell.
Following detection of COVID-19 cases in the AMC, ACTCOSS has been working with community partners to ensure that detainees and their families are adequately protected. ACTCOSS has written to the ACT Government calling on them to do more to increase levels of vaccination among detainees, to introduce rapid testing of corrections staff, testing of detainees before leaving the AMC and consideration of early release programs.
ACTCOSS advocates for social justice in the ACT and represents not-for-profit community organisations.
For more information or comment, please contact
Dr Emma Campbell, CEO, ACTCOSS, on 0424 910 617 or 02 6202 7200.