Independent report into Treatment in Custody released

Released 10/11/2016

Minister for Corrections, Shane Rattenbury, has today released an independent report into the Treatment in Custody of Mr Steven Freeman.

"I welcome the recommendations and conclusions from independent reviewer Mr Philip Moss AM and the Government will now consider how the recommendations can be implemented, noting that they may require legislative changes and additional resources," said Mr Rattenbury.

"I have released the report early in order to provide transparency to the community, and especially to Mr Freeman's family and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community, and the Government will provide a formal response in due course.

"The recommendations span across a number of Government Directorates and Statutory Office Holders and the Government will now work through the detail of the recommendations.

"I would like to take this opportunity to reiterate my deepest sympathies to the family and friends of Mr Freeman.

"This review identifies that Government can and must do more to ensure people in custody are safe and receive appropriate health care."

Mr Rattenbury said the nine recommendations detail how services and operations can be reformed in an effort to prevent another tragedy.

"A common theme in the review is the need for greater information sharing and a more collaborative response to care across agencies in the criminal justice system.

"The review also identifies changes to our processes that have already been implemented since Mr Freeman';s death.

"In recognition of the seriousness of these issues, work is already underway to address these concerns, as noted by the independent reviewer Mr Philip Moss AM.

This includes:

  • improved information sharing between ACT Policing and ACT Corrective Services when a person is remanded in custody;
  • extensive upgrades to security, including additional cameras installed throughout the AMC;
  • a designated unit available for placement for first-time arrivals in the AMC to allow for thorough assessments to take place over a period of up to five days to inform a detainee's placement in the AMC;
  • more accommodation for detainees with two new units opened;
  • construction is underway on new prison industries to provide a more structured day for detainees;
  • a review of the procedures by ACT Health for prescribing and monitoring methadone use in the AMC is currently underway;
  • a more assertive follow-up system for people discharged from Canberra Hospital to the AMC is currently being implemented;
    commitment by Justice Health Services to improving the documentation process for Induction Assessment - including documentation of illicit drug use, withdrawal and resultant management plans;
  • a process to review and re-design many of the clinical forms currently used at AMC has commenced; and
  • the roll out of a Mental Health electronic clinical record system to all Justice Health staff at the AMC which is due to be complete mid 2017.

"The Government is committed to improving the health care services provided to detainees and as part of our response, we will be looking closely at how we provide Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander detainees with culturally sensitive and appropriate care and a choice of seeking health care from Indigenous workers," Mr Rattenbury said.

"I would like to thank Mr Moss and his team for their hard work over the past few months in delivering this report to Government."

Mr Rattenbury said the review was established to provide answers for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community and the Government.

"I understand this process has been traumatic for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community," Mr Rattenbury said.

"The independent review was an important step for the community to share their experiences and help identify where our processes and services can be improved.

"I hope to build greater trust between the Government and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community by enhancing the cultural support provided for those in contact with the criminal justice system.

"As a Government, we recognise our responsibility to do more to ensure the protection of people in our custody, and our significant engagement with the community throughout the independent review is evidence of our commitment to do more."

Mr Rattenbury said the Government would release a formal response to the Review within the next few months.

"This is an important report which warrants deep consideration by Government, particularly as it addresses operations across several directorates," Mr Rattenbury said.

"The coronial hearings are due to begin next month, and respecting the wishes of Mr Freeman's family and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community, our response will be released at a time when the family has had some time to reflect on the proceedings.

"I recognise the next few weeks will be an emotional time for family and friends, and the ACT Government will continue to offer support."

The report is available at

Minister Rattenbury will be available for comment at 1:30pm outside the Member's Entrance of the ACT Legislative Assembly.

- Statement ends -

Section: Shane Rattenbury, MLA | Media Releases

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