The AMC caters for the full-time custody of male and female remanded and sentenced detainees of all security classifications within a secure and safe environment. Operating under the Corrections Management Act 2007 and Human Rights principles, the AMC is a campus-style facility comprising cottage-style accommodation and cell blocks.

With a strong focus on rehabilitation, the AMC engages actively with the private and community sectors in the ACT to promote positive rehabilitative and reintegration outcomes for detainees and a safer community for all.

Average Daily Detainee Numbers

In 2020-21 average daily detainee numbers decreased to 410.8, reaching a low of 358 in May 2021. The daily average detainee population since 2016-17 is provided in Table 10.

Table 10 - Daily Average Detainee Population

 

2016-17

2017-18

2018-19

2019-20

2020-21

Total

445.40

474.30

484.10

443.80

413.40

The average sentenced detainee population was 261.4 in 2020-21; a decrease of, on average, 4.8 detainees from 2019-20. This decrease was primarily driven by a fall in the male population from an average of 251.8 in 2019-20 to 247.0 in 2020-21. A breakdown of the average sentenced detainee population since 2016-17 is in Table 11.

Table 11 - Daily Average Sentenced Detainee Population

 

2016-17

2017-18

2018-19

2019-20

2020-21

Non-Indigenous Male

202.60

222.40

217.50

198.90

195.10

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Male

55.50

54.00

55.60

55.20

51.50

Non-Indigenous Female

9.70

12.50

11.20

9.30

7.40

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Female

4.50

5.30

5.50

5.20

7.00

Male with Indigenous Status Unknown

8.60

7.80

6.20

1.30

0.40

Female with Indigenous Status Unknown

0.20

0.70

0.80

0.00

0.00

Total

281.10

302.50

296.80

269.80

261.40

The AMC had an average unsentenced detainee population of 147.4 in 2020-21, a decrease of 26.5 detainees from the 2019-20 average. This decrease was primarily driven by the non-indigenous male population, which decreased from an average of 116.1 in 2019-20 to 97.2 in 2020-21, as well as a decrease in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander male population from 38.7 in 2019-20 to 35.1 in 2020-21. Table 12 shows the daily average unsentenced detainee population since 2016-17.

Table 12 - Daily Average Unsentenced Detainee Population

 

2016-17

2017-18

2018-19

2019-20

2020-21

Non-Indigenous Male

117.10

112.90

122.10

116.1

97.20

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Male

25.90

35.50

40.1

38.7

35.10

Non-Indigenous Female

11.70

11.50

12.5

9.9

6.60

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Female

5.70

8.20

8.8

7.7

6.60

Male with Indigenous Status Unknown

3.20

3.40

2.9

1.4

1.90

Female with Indigenous Status Unknown

0.70

0.20

0.6

0.1

0.00

Gender Unspecified

0.00

0.00

0.2

0.0

0.0

Total

164.30

171.80

187.3

173.9

147.40

In June 2021, there were a total of 377 detainees at the AMC compared to 452 at the same time in 2020. This comprised 128 unsentenced detainees – a decrease of 41 unsentenced detainees from 2020, 68 detainees serving sentences less than two years – a significant decrease of 39 from 2020, and 63 detainees serving sentences between two and five years – a decrease of seven from 2020.

This was offset by an increase of three detainees serving sentences between five and 20 years and an increase of one detainee serving a life sentence. The number of detainees serving more than 20 years saw a significant increase, moving from 11 to 21.

Table 13 - Breakdown by Maximum Imprisonment Period for Full-Time Detainees

 

2016-17

2017-18

2018-19

2019-20

2020-21

Unsentenced

176

187

196

169

128

<2 Years

113

126

99

107

68

2 to 5< Years

71

76

93

70

63

5 to <20 Years

75

90

76

89

92

20 Years +

9

10

6

11

21

Life

3

4

4

6

5

Total

447

493

474

452

377

Women’s Service

The AMC women’s area continued to develop and expand its compendium of programs and services throughout 2020-21. Despite the unfortunate impacts of COVID-19, most programs, educational opportunities and services continued, in some cases with alternatives such as teleconferencing to ensure a continuity of care for all female detainees.

Following the identification of domestic and family violence safety planning as an area of need by the women, ACTCS funded and implemented a Domestic and Family Violence Awareness workshop with community partner Beryl Women Inc. This program assists female detainees in increasing their awareness of domestic and family violence impacts and provides individual support as required pre- and post-release. The program is intended to be kept open and rolling to maximise engagement and comfort in engaging with such topics. The workshops gathered a lot of interest throughout the year and has been added to the ongoing compendium of program for this area.

ACTCS also established a construction course for women at AMC, working with Foresite Education to introduce skills and experience in the civil construction industry. The program was delivered and facilitated at the Special Care Centre (SCC) of the AMC where female detainees were accommodated at the time. The program ran twice weekly for 10 weeks using the SCC indoor program rooms and outdoor spaces.

Foresite Education also assisted ACTCS with the “Buddy Bench” initiative. Prompted by a wish to reinvest and give back to the community, and originating from the local AMC Women’s Steering Committee, the women began to build “buddy benches” to be donated to schools across the ACT. In the lead up, the Women’s Unit approached the ACT Education Directorate for a call to be sent out to all educational centres across the territory to express interest in receiving a buddy bench built and decorated by the women.
This resulted in five schools registering their interest to receive a bench when completed. The construction of the benches will result in an educational outcome for the women engaging with the initiative.

Detainee Health Services

Justice Health Services

ACTCS is committed to ensuring that detainees are provided with quality health care to a standard equivalent to that available in the community. ACTCS works in collaboration with Canberra Health Services (CHS) to ensure that the health care needs of all detainees are identified, and timely support is provided.

Winnunga

Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Service has delivered the Winnunga Model of Care since 2018, assisting in maintaining and improving the overall health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander detainees by providing a culturally safe service within the AMC.

Services provided by Winnunga include General Practitioner and nursing and participation in multi-agency clinical services review and management planning. It may also include social, emotional and wellbeing services, culturally appropriate care planning, counselling and group therapy and discharge planning. Detainees can opt into this service.

Hume Health Centre

The Hume Health Centre was purpose-built and provides facilities for the care and treatment of detainees whilst in the AMC. Work has been undertaken to provide improved administrative facilitates for health staff in recent years. Justice Health and Winnunga Health Services are working with ACTCS to consider improvements to the health centre to meet current and future needs within the available space.

Detainee Wellbeing

Induction

The AMC operates with a dedicated policy and procedure for new detainees and their first week in custody. The Induction Program supports both women and men in their adjustment to custody by addressing their immediate needs (from the community and present situation) and supports ACTCS to complete a range of assessments that inform future accommodation placements and commence sentence management planning processes.

The dedicated areas within the AMC for both men and women detainees to facilitate separation from the general detainee population were possible in recognition that the initial period of custody presents vulnerabilities and allows for an informed assessment for progression within the AMC. Detainees are informed of their rights, obligations and anything they may need to know whilst in the AMC. They are assisted by a detainee peer that is assigned employment in a Peer Support role.

The Induction Unit and program is supported by the Induction Coordinator and the Welfare Officer who both assist in the coordination of assessments and services over the initial week prior to longer term accommodation placement.

Family Connection

Regular contact with family and friends is critical to the rehabilitation of detainees and can assist with strengthening family relationships and successful reintegration into the community upon exiting the AMC. Each year, ACTCS facilitates thousands of visits to detainees in the AMC.

Visits scheduling has continued to evolve in 2020-21 to adapt to requirements with the changing COVID situations. During 2020-21 one face-to-face visit per detainee per week was available with no physical contact and 1.5-metre rule in place. In person visits were only available to immediate family, being two adults and two children as a maximum per visit. One Zoom visit was also available per week, per detainee.

Visits of family and professionals to the AMC into the future will continue to consider risk assessments including but not limited to the current state of COVID in the community and associated Public Health advice.

Children with Parents in Custody

The Shine AMC team deliver services to children with parents in custody and have been most successful with detainees recording story books to send to their children. Whilst services have been limited due to COVID restrictions the team have supported supervised contacts and offered a children’s transport service to visit parents in custody.

Detainee Services and Shine for Kids are preparing to run a pilot program called Keeping us Together at the AMC during COVID restrictions where normal service delivery cannot occur. The program incorporates mindfulness and reflection to help parents in custody examine and improve their communication with children. The program has had great success in several NSW and Queensland facilities.

Figure 5 - Books available for detainees to record and send to their children

Figure 5 - Books available for detainees to record and send to their children 1 Figure 5 - Books available for detainees to record and send to their children 2

Library Services

Approximately 22 750 items were borrowed from the AMC Library during the 2020-21 reporting period, including 18 065 books. These are similar numbers to the previous year – despite detainee numbers being considerably lower – and are therefore very encouraging. The vast majority of detainees access library services which include provision of printing services (legal, personal, educational and informative), magazines, puzzles (word searches, crosswords and sudoku), colouring pages, guitar music, magnifying reading glasses and DVDs.

Men and women participated in a book club to discuss classic and contemporary texts. Books included:
A Million Little Pieces, 100 Years of Solitude, The Dry, Big Little Lies, The Death of Ivan Ilych by Tolstoy
and Candide by Voltaire.

Our third annual creative writing competition was held, with many detainees enthusiastically contributing stories and poems, the top four entries receiving book vouchers. The winner was an Indigenous poet who also contributed to the latest volume of Dreaming Inside, which showcases poetry by Indigenous detainees at Junee Correctional Centre, published by Black Wallaby, in conjunction with the South Coast Writers’ Centre and edited by Aunty Barbara Nicholson. Publishers included a special chapter for the work of this poet.

Literacy

All detainees entering the AMC receive a pre-training language, literacy, and numeracy assessment, according to the Australian Core Skills Framework (ACSF).

The ACSF assessment provides the education department with an evaluation of knowledge and comprehension levels in the core skills of learning, reading, writing, oral communication and numeracy.
The assessment results are used to authenticate whether a detainee can commence the Certificate II in Skills for Work and Vocational Pathways.

Detainees who are unable to commence at the Certificate II level are given non-accredited activities and lessons to assist them in achieving a level where they can enrol and complete the requirements of the Certificate II.

Chaplaincy

The AMC Chaplaincy team delivered a broad scope of work including regular chapel services, the Seasons for Growth program (change, grief, and loss), Muslim prayers, small group sessions, Uniting Church services, Jewish pastoral visits, pastoral team services and mediations. Chaplains, on average, delivered thirty-five small groups per month with around 180 interactions per month. Additionally, the Chaplaincy team assisted in providing alternative services to detainees unable to attend funerals due to community restrictions and facilitated an AMC wedding.

The AMC Chaplaincy team welcomed the new Indigenous Chaplain and Pentecostal Chaplain. The newest members of the team were warmly received by detainees and staff alike.

Figure 6 - ANZAC Day Ceremony conducted by the Chaplaincy team and Guest veterans

Figure 6 - ANZAC Day Ceremony conducted by the Chaplaincy team and Guest veterans

Sport and Recreational Activities

Throughout 2020-21 Corporate Health Management staff and Activities Officers supported the health and wellbeing of detainees through structured sport and recreational activities for men and women, offering various opportunities on a weekly basis. Sport and recreational activities are scheduled in the Multipurpose building, on the Ovals, in the Women’s Community Centre, and some accommodation areas.

Sporting activities delivered include oz tag, walking, circuit training, Pilates, badminton, basketball, volleyball, tennis, table tennis, soccer, and gym. Other programs offered were model making and mindful stretching classes. Corporate Health Management also provided individual consultations and tailored health and fitness plans.

The healthy eating and sports nutrition workshops commenced, and the first detainee group have completed the course. This initiative has been popular and will be rolled out to the broader prison community from July 2021.

Figure 7 - taking part in online ANZAC Day rowing challenge

Figure 7 - taking part in online ANZAC Day rowing challenge

In early 2021 a group of men participated in an introductory rowing class with volunteer members of the ACT Rowing Club and AMC Programs staff. The participants were given instruction by qualified rowing coaches which started with familiarisation of the indoor rowing machines, safety, technique, and terms used to describe rowing movements. As the group were put through their paces the coaches provided feedback and encouragement to assist with improving technique to get the most out of their training. The group of male and female rowers then participated in an online ANZAC Day challenge competing against other rowing clubs and community members. A total of 70 112 metres was achieved by the group who were also acknowledged as the largest group entry. The program has received positive feedback from detainees and is ongoing with group members sharing their knowledge and training new members.

The model making group commenced in May 2021. Detainees were assisted in accessing model kits ranging from wooden ships, plastic planes, cars and trucks and Star Wars models. Those that participated commented on how fast time went while building the models and that it provided relaxation for the mind.

Figure 8 - Corporate Health Management model making group

Figure 8 - Corporate Health Management model making group-1 Figure 8 - Corporate Health Management model making group-2 Figure 8 - Corporate Health Management model making group-3Figure 8 - Corporate Health Management model making group-4

Prison Industries

ACTCS continues to work on enhancing prison industries and providing detainees with an opportunity
to gain valuable skills that will assist in successful reintegration. This is achieved through the Detainee Employment Program which continues to meet demand.

The Program works closely with the Education Program to ensure that detainees undertake the mandatory education and training pre-requisites to employment. This includes bodily spills, blood borne virus awareness and white card (workplace, health and safety) training. There may also be other education and training requirements depending on the nature of the employment.

Detainee Employment

Employment participation by detainees has remained constant over the last two fiscal years. The number
of detainees who participated in employment during 2020-21 can be seen below:

Table 18 - Number of detainees who participated in employment during 2020-21

 

Jul

Aug

Sep

Oct

Nov

Dec

Jan

Feb

Mar

Apr

May

June

 

Total

Employed in service industry

221

214

218

223

203

209

195

209

205

194

162

174

2 427

% of eligible detainees (RoGS)

83.70

84.60

86.50

87.10

87.90

85.30

87.10

83.90

85.40

91.50

89.50

87.00

86.62

(avg)

RoGS data measures the percentage of sentenced detainees engaged in work in prison industries.

Numbers are measured on the last business day of the month.

Table 19 - Employment Rate

Financial Year

2016-17

2017-18

2018-19

2019-20

2020-21

Employment Rate (%)

74.70

75.60

80.70

80.70

86.70

 

Grounds Maintenance

Grounds maintenance crews achieved the following during 2020-21:

  • upgrade of garden bed in front of sentenced and remand cell blocks to improve aesthetic and security of the area
  • rabbit control program to reduce the impact of rabbit activity on infrastructure and security
  • re-establishment of gardens across the centre
  • Floriade Reimagined in September with three tulip gardens brightening up the entry walkways in the AMC, and
  • establishment of the production nursery as an employment opportunity with rectification work being undertaken in that area to bring it up to industry standard.

Figure 9 - One of three Floriade Reimagined tulip gardens at AMC in September 2020

Figure 9 - One of three Floriade Reimagined tulip gardens at AMC in September 2020

Kitchen

The AMC Kitchen Team produced and served approximately 300 000 meals for detainees and 10 000 for AMC staff during 2020-21. Further catering support was provided for special or religious events such as NAIDOC Week, Ramadan, National Corrections Day and Christmas, with positive feedback from attendees on the quality of food and service.

Bakery

The AMC Bakery provides work opportunities for three teams of eight detainees on each shift, a total of 24 detainees. The AMC Bakery provides the opportunity for detainees to complete nationally accredited vocational courses at Certificate I and II level. Detainees working in the AMC Bakery are supported by highly qualified tradespeople to assist with their education. Working in the AMC Bakery provides a vocational and industry-standard work environment to assist detainees to secure full time work on release.

The AMC Bakery now provides detainees with the opportunity to produce a range of bakery products for other detainees to purchase. This has allowed detainees to improve their skills in preparing a wide range of products within a commercial-like setting.

AMC Textiles

In November 2019 ACTCS, Capital Linen Services, and the Transport and City Services Directorate, established a linen service at the AMC that offsets the cost of ACT Government linen repairs and maintenance and provides detainees with a new skills-based work opportunity in commercial sewing.
Five detainees participated in this industry in 2020-21.

The Textiles Unit has performed the following activities:

  • repaired tears on bed sheets (ACT Hospitals)
  • upcycled and repurposed damaged AMC linen into other products including torn sheets into pillowcases and turning torn towels into face cloths
  • manufacture of curtains and shower curtains for the AMC, and
  • manufacture of linen (sheets, pillowcases and doona covers) for the Sleep Bus initiative.

Recycling

The detainee recycling program is a low intensity and less physical service industry work option. Accordingly, it usually employs our older detainee cohort.  These detainees manually sort the waste to maximise the amount of we divert from landfill to recycling.  When the COVID-19 pandemic commenced, ACT Health advised that the elderly cohort that undertakes the recycling is at the highest risk of COVID‑19 related complications so the sorting of recycling from waste was paused, resulting in waste going to landfill.

Around the same time, the AMC commenced stockpiling meals as a contingency should restrictions or infections impact the facility as the kitchen relies heavily on detainee service industry labour to support AMC food service staff with food preparation, production, distribution and cleaning.

As the 3-phase power outlet in the bin area at the rear of the kitchen for the comingle recycling compactor was not being used, the compactor was returned to the supplier and the 3-phase power outlet was used for a temporary refrigerated shipping container to store overflow meals.

Metal Shop

In 2020-21 the AMC metal workshop continued to build and repair items for use throughout the AMC, with a focus on making stainless steel mailboxes for the detainee areas. Another area of significant focus was reinforcing stainless steel toilets for the Crisis Support and Management Units as they have been the subject of continued vandalism and damage.

Detainee Education and Training

Vocational Education and Training (VET) industry competencies were expanded during 2020-21 to include Bakery Certificate II. The following vocational opportunities were available for detainees as elective skill sets within the Foundation Skills qualifications:

  • Hospitality - Barista, and Bakery
  • Property Services - Cleaning, Waste Removal, and Recycling
  • Business - Using business technology, and Digital Literacy
  • Horticulture - Conservation and Land Management, and
  • Stand-alone competencies - Chemical Users, Manual Handling, and Construction White Card.

Further qualifications were also available to detainees, including:

  • Certificate II in Rural Operations - Agriculture, Horticulture, Conservation and Land Management, and
  • Civil Construction - progression towards Certificate II in construction

The number of detainees participating in tertiary preparation, university diplomas and degree studies was 19 – an increase from previous years with one student obtaining their associate degree in Business with distinction and another completing a Bachelor of Behavioural Science. Due to university restrictions for detainees, other courses were principally in Business, Construction, Commerce and General Studies.

Table 20 - Total Number of Competencies

Total number of competencies

Full VET Certificates

Statement of Attainment

1 125

38

380

Table 21 - Number of Competencies Completed and Awarded in 2020-21 by Category

Categories

Number of Competencies

Foundation Skills (including digital literacy/business tech.)

539

Hospitality

276

Property Services

95

Construction

107

Horticulture and Rural

108

Security

Contraband

The introduction of contraband into the AMC remains a primary threat to the safety and security of detainees and staff. The Intelligence and Integrity Unit and AMC Security worked together to develop well-planned and successful operations to reduce the amount of contraband being introduced into the AMC. There continued to be drone and over the fence introductions of phones and drugs for the period.

There were 3 862 planned and random searches of individual locations at the AMC in 2020-21, with 587 contraband items located.

Chart 6 - Searches and Contraband Items Seized in 2020-21

Chart 6 - Searches and Contraband Items Seized in 2020-21

Chart 7 - Seized Items and Primary Sub-categories of Contraband Items in 2020-21

Chart 7 - Seized Items and Primary Sub-categories of Contraband Items in 2020-21

K9 Unit

Recruitment of a Canine Unit Supervisor and accompanying trained phone detection dog in mid-2021 has allowed intensive training for canines and their handlers, including drug detection, temperament adjustment and imprinting for Buprenorphine and phones to support staff searching and safety of the centre. The K9 Unit has undertaken advanced training with the AFP and continue to seek training opportunities and develop this positive relationship.

The Unit has been present throughout AMC imprinting the new canines and supporting targeted and general searching across the centre. They have worked closely with the security team support effective searching outcomes. The introduction of a fourth canine will see continued canine presence as dogs are rotated out for retirement.

Pictured: Quota and Uma from the program

pictured-Quota and Uma from the program