The Review found a need for a clear, shared purpose for the custodial system focused on rehabilitation, safety and human rights, a duty to provide culturally responsible services and the right to equivalent standard of healthcare.
The Department will review the current legislative framework and engage with staff, people in custody and key stakeholders to consider opportunities to modernise it. The Department will also consider the range of recommendations for legislative change or those dependent on a new legislative framework through this process, including the establishment of a restorative justice scheme for corrections staff.
The Review found that homophobia and transphobia persist in the custodial system, with LGBTIQ+ people facing higher risks of violence and assault, including sexual assault. Trans people in custody are particularly vulnerable to violence, and processes for managing their placement and treatment should be improved to ensure their safety and wellbeing.
The new health model, commencing 1 July 2023, will ensure LGBTIQ+ people in prison can access enhanced primary health services that more appropriately meet their needs. The lived experience reference group and charter will also expressly include the experience of LGBTIQ+ people.
The Review recommended the Department ensure offence-specific interventions are responsive to individual need and provide alternatives to group-based interventions when required. This recommendation has been acquitted through the current offender management framework, which matches intervention to risk and provides alternatives to group-based interventions for people who cannot safely or effectively participate.
Noting the Review’s recommendations to enhance prison disciplinary processes, Corrections Victoria has developed a new training program for staff on disciplinary processes and has begun to review a sample of disciplinary hearings each month to ensure proportionate and consistent disciplinary actions.
The Government has invested in infrastructure to ensure modern and fit for purpose facilities can foster both rehabilitation and safety. In the women’s system, the Government has invested $189 million to deliver 106 new beds, replacing beds that are no longer fit for purpose. This investment also includes supporting infrastructure such as a new reception building, new units providing close support, new multi-purpose buildings, an expansion of the perimeter wall and expanded legal and tele court facilities.
As part of this investment, a new close supervision unit will be opened early this year and will replace existing units that are not fit for purpose, as recommended by the Review.
The new infrastructure at DPFC is designed to ensure prison environments keep female prisoners safe by increasing access to and engagement with rehabilitation programs and supporting the trauma-based reforms introduced in 2018 through the women’s system reform project.