Wednesday 2010 - Estimates Committee B (McKim) - Part 1







Mr Dean

Mr Finch

Mr Wing

Mrs Taylor

Ms Rattray (Chair)





Dr Goodwin





Hon. Nick McKim MP, Minister for Human Services, Minister for Corrections and Consumer Protection, Minister for Community Development, Minister for Climate Change, Minister for Sustainable Transport and Alternative Energy


Cassy O'Connor MP, Secretary to Cabinet




Department of Justice


Lisa Hutton, Secretary

Michael Stevens, Deputy Secretary

Robert Williams, Deputy Secretary

Greg Partridge, Assistant Director of Prisons

Chris Batt, Director, Office of Consumer Affairs and Fair Trading

Jo Maxfield, Manager, Reception Prisons

Ginna Webster, Director, Community Corrections



Department of Premier and Cabinet


Greg Johannes, Deputy Secretary, Policy

Nick Evans, Director, Policy and Programs, Program Development Unit

Wendy Spencer, Executive Director, Office of Climate Change



Ministerial Staff


Ronan Lee, Adviser

Andrew Perry, Adviser

Christian Attfield, Adviser

Rosemary Sandford, Adviser

Claire Jansen, Assistant Policy Adviser/Executive Officer


(Department of Justice)


Output group 6

Corrective Services


Mr FINCH - Minister, on Monday the minister for youth justice talked about the cost effectiveness of an efficient youth justice system in keeping people out of Risdon.  Do you have a figure on those who have spent time at Ashley who make their way through to Risdon?


Mr McKIM - I certainly do not have it here.  What sort of figures would you be talking about - the number of people who have spent time in Ashley and then find themselves in our prisons?


Mr FINCH - Yes.


Mr McKIM - Are you just asking about Risdon or our custodial institutions or Corrective Services generally because there are different categories?


Mr FINCH - Let us talk about Risdon specifically because that is the high end, or the low end, of where they are going.  That is probably the maximum stage that they are going to get to in respect of their downward spiral from a place like Ashley.  I just want to get some sort of figure to get an understanding of whether that can be corrected and focused on.


Mr McKIM - So what you are asking, Mr Finch, as I understand it, is for the number of people who have spent time in Ashley that then have found themselves in Risdon.


Mr FINCH - Yes.


Mr McKIM - So that is maximum and medium?


Mr FINCH - Yes, of your 466 that you are suggesting you have now.


Mr McKIM - Well, the number I gave earlier is across all of our custodial institutions so it would include Risdon, Ron Barwick, Hayes, Hobart Reception and Launceston Reception.


Mr FINCH - Okay.  If the figures are available across the board I would be happy to be provided with them.


Mr McKIM - This would require a level of interagency discussion.  Ashley is not run by the Department of Justice; it is run by DHHS.  As that is not something that is under my control, what I am happy to do is to ask whether DHHS would be prepared to make those figures available and to provide some advice to the committee about whether or not we can provide those figures.  I am unable to give a guarantee to you now that we can find those figures because the DHHS numbers are simply not within my authority.


CHAIR - Minister, we will wait for you to get back to us on that.  Mr Finch, do you have a question in relation to prison services as we need to get on to Corrections.


Mr FINCH - Page 7.18.


Mr McKIM - Are you on a table there, Mr Finch?

Mr FINCH - Table 7.13.  Note 1 talks about Frontline Services.  The increase in the Prison Services and Community Corrective Services outputs primarily affects additional funding for Frontline Services.  What I would probably like is an explanation of these services and an idea of their effectiveness as well, or the hope of their effectiveness.


Mr McKIM - Frontline services in this context, effectively across the board, are funds for running our prisons and running Community Corrections where, again, that is regarded as frontline services.


Mr FINCH - Okay, so that is not a new reference or a new terminology that has been included just in this Budget.


Mr McKIM - That is correct.


Mr FINCH - So that is what it is referred to as.  In the operation of the prison, you call them frontline services.


Mr McKIM - It is only to meet our operational costs, in effect, the operational costs of running our custodial institutions and also running Community Corrections.


Mr FINCH - Thank you.  I wanted to check to make sure because that is terminology that I have not heard before.


Ms HUTTON - Small 'f', small 's'.




Mr McKIM - It has capitals there but -




Ms HUTTON - Yes, we can blame Treasury for that.


Mr FINCH - Page 7.19, table 714; we talked about the recidivism rate being fairly steady at about 23 per cent.  I am wondering whether we could get the actual number in prison now compared to in the year 2000 who are recidivists.  You made a reference earlier to Mr Hodgman and his references to recidivism and I am wondering whether this opens the opportunity for you to go down that path.


Mr McKIM - It does.  I make the point that the issue around recidivism rates is very complex statistically because you need to make a certain series of assumptions before you can deliver statistics of any value.  One of the major value judgments that you need to make is what period of time you want to allow to elapse in the calculation of a recidivism rate.  In other words, is it whether someone reoffends and returns to prison within six months, two years, five years, 10 years; what is that period of time?


Mr FINCH - The performance measure taken here is two years.


Mr McKIM - Yes, that is right.  The performance measure there is two years.  That is very true but also there are complexities around is it return of prisoners to prison or is it return of prisoners to Corrective Services more generally which might include Community Corrections, so there are a number of different categories of recidivism. 


Based on the Federal Government's report on government services, of the prisoners released in 2006-07, 36.4 per cent have returned to prison within two years.  This is below the national average of 39.3 per cent.  People who have been released from prison in 2006-07 and returned to Corrective Services - either prison or Community Corrections - within two years is 44.4 per cent and that is just below the national average of 44.6 per cent.  Of offenders discharged from Community Corrections in 2006-07 within two years, 14.1 per cent returned to Community Corrections which is lower again than the national average of 17.8 per cent, and of offenders discharged from Community Corrections and returning to Corrective Services - either Community Corrections or custodial institutions - within two years, 20.1 per cent which is significantly lower than the national average of 27.8 per cent.  On the four main recidivism measures we are lower than the national average on every measure.


Mr FINCH - Does that mean in Tasmania we focus more on that work of trying to support those prisoners who go back into mainstream life to not reoffend?


Mr McKIM - Certainly driving the recidivism rate down has been a focus of Corrective Services for a long time and it will remain a strong focus and it is one of the things I would like to focus on.  The way that we do that is part of the Breaking the Cycle discussion paper but in broad terms, reducing the recidivism rate is about education, it is about programs, some of which I have mentioned already this morning.  It is about making sure that reintegration into our community is properly managed and delivered to people and it is also about making sure we have good programs in Community Corrections.  As I have indicated, we have extra money in this year's budget that will actually deliver some increased programs in Community Corrections, which I am happy to talk about when we get to that part.


Mr FINCH - We have seen the number of females in prison in Victoria has increased markedly recently - that was the story in the Age this month.  Is this trend reflected in Tasmania and if it is, would you be concerned?


Mr McKIM - Ultimately the number of prisoners is not really a matter that falls within my portfolio.  One of my jobs is to run the Corrections system in Tasmania and there are a range of factors varying from cultural to sentencing practices that go to influence the number of prisoners we have and also the relative gender balance of those prisoners.  And as pointed out by Ms Hutton, we are not aiming for gender balance in Tasmania's prison system.




Mr McKIM - I can tell you that in 2007-08 the female population in the prison system was 37; in 2008-09 it was 36 so there is no trend I can identify of any significant increase.  In fact the number of female prisoners is effectively static.