Annual Report 2004-2005 Ombudsman 27th Report
Tabled paper 283
Tabled papers for 10th Assembly 2005 - 2008; Tabled papers; ParliamentNT
Tabled By Claire Martin
Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory under Standing Order 240. Where copyright subsists with a third party it remains with the original owner and permission may be required to reuse the material.
___________________________________________________________ Ombudsmans Annual Report 2004/05 53 is posted has been introduced. The amended mailing processes/system to allow for more accurate information to be established and monitored in relation to the amount of time that mail is handled in the prisons administrative processes, as well as for audit purposes. 3. Food! Glorious Food!! This office received a complaint from a prisoner concerning the issue of special meals/diet at the prison. Inquiries were conducted into the issue with the Professional Standards Unit to obtain information on the agencys policy and position on this issue. During inquiries, it was noted that the agency did not have a specific documented policy on the issue of special meals/diets for prisoners. The only reference found that could be connected to the issue of prisoners special meals is in section 72 of the Prisons (Correctional Services) Act, which stated that the Director shall comply with the directions of a Visiting Medical Officer (VMO) relating to the maintenance of the health of a prisoner. This appeared to be a broad statement and open to interpretation. When queried, the agency advised that if written advice is obtained from the VMO stating that a particular meal/diet is required for a prisoner due to a specific medical condition, then it would be considered. However it appears that this policy is not documented or made widely known to prisoners and staff. When discussed with staff of the agency in terms of addressing this situation, the agency undertook to include information about its policy on special meals/diets, in the Prisoners Information Handbook, which is issued to all prisoners when they first enter prison. Turning to the prisoners particular complaint, the agency advised this office that if the prisoner wished to have a special diet, then he would need to see the VMO and have it specifically stated in writing that the special diet/meal requested is due to a diagnosed medical condition or that the prisoners current diet is having a negative effect on his health. The VMO would also need to specify what particular dietary requirements the prisoner needed in order to address his particular medical condition. Upon receipt of this written notification, the agency would then consider the request. This office then advised the prisoner to put in a request to see the VMO to commence this process. He was also advised that should he encounter any difficulties in obtaining the special diet after applying through the VMO, then he should notify the Superintendent in the first instance to give him the opportunity to address the situation. Thereafter, if he still remained aggrieved or dissatisfied with the Superintendents response, he could again contact this office via the normal channels for further consideration. Given the agencys response and prompt action to address this situation, it was not considered to take any further action in this matter.
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