In 2020-21 approximately 25% of the AMC detainee population identified as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander. ACTCS recognises culturally appropriate activities and events are critical elements to assist Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander detainees to succeed in rehabilitation. In making key decisions around detainee welfare, specific consideration is given to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and kinship.

In 2020-21 the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Service Unit continued to work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander detainees in providing liaison and welfare support, coordinating cultural programs and services, and holding key special events to acknowledge significant cultural dates. The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Services Unit office remains within the AMC education precinct.

Highlights for the year included the Totems virtual Art Exhibition which was an online exhibition celebrating Reconciliation and NAIDOC weeks and the partnership between ACTCS and Knight Frank Commercial Property Managers. The partnership allowed the continuation of the 'Dream Gallery' Indigenous Detainee Art Exhibition in the ACTCS head office. The exhibition consists of 25 selected artworks regularly displayed for public sale with a changeover of sold artworks occurring at the end of each calendar month.

Programs and services delivered on a regular basis include Culture on the Move men’s and women’s art programs, Elder’s music expression program, Elders 1:1 healing service, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women’s Leadership program, Elders Family engagement program, Songlines program for men and Elder’s visitation programs. The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Services team are working on several new cultural programs for 2021 including the Songlines program for women, “Bringing people Together” women’s group trauma program, and Artifact therapy program.

Cultural art remained a popular activity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander detainees and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Services Unit were able to support these activities for both men and women by enhancing the Men’s Culture Room in the AMC Education precinct (Figure: 3) and setting up the Women’s Culture Room in WCC (Figure: 4) in anticipation of the women returning to their original accommodation area within the Women’s Community Centre in July.

Figure 3 - The Men’s Culture Room

Figure 3 - The Men’s Culture Room

Figure 4 - The Women’s Culture Room

Figure 4 - The Womens Culture Room

As the COVID-19 public health emergency impacted service delivery within the AMC in the early part of 2020 special events regularly scheduled for July were rescheduled to November in line with the postponement of NAIDOC Celebrations until that time.