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Annual Report 2004-2005 Ombudsman 27th Report



Annual Report 2004-2005 Ombudsman 27th Report

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Tabled paper 283


Tabled papers for 10th Assembly 2005 - 2008; Tabled papers; ParliamentNT




Tabled By Claire Martin


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___________________________________________________________ Ombudsmans Annual Report 2004/05 57 Officer (who asserted he had spoken with a number of prisoners about the assault) that the complainant had previously warned about the change in the assailants behaviour. In this offices view, this contemporaneous record went some way to supporting the complainants version of events. In light of this information, and given the time that had lapsed since the incident in question, this office was of the view that this matter would remain unresolved. In all the circumstances, it was considered that this office had taken the complainants specific allegations about the assault as far as was necessary and could not see that any further investigation would serve any useful purpose. One of the most influential factors taken into account in reaching this position was the fact that NT Corrections mental health programs had already been the subject of extensive review by the Department of Justice. This area was considered as part of a more holistic examination undertaken by the Departments contractor a Management Consulting Firm into NT Correctional Services adult custodial operations. Relevantly, it was observed that the review report made the following comment: Mentally disordered offenders are a chronic management problem in prisons. In addition to the additional health care needs they have, their behaviour is disruptive to other inmates, especially in the close quarters of a cell block there is nowhere for other inmates to go to get away from the unusual behaviour. This statement appeared to effectively echo the complainants concerns which were raised as a consequence of the incident in which a prisoner was assaulted. Importantly, the review made certain recommendations as to how to address the problems associated with the management of prisoners suffering mental health disorders. This office was fully supportive of any process which was designed to develop or improve NT Corrections capacity to appropriately manage offenders suffering mental disorders. With this in mind, the reviews proposals in this area appeared to be a very positive step in the right direction. As a result, this office determined to formally consult with NT Corrections senior management regarding the general concern underlying the complainants initial approach to this office that NT Correctional Services management was failing to comprehensively manage prisoners who were mentally ill outside the context of a formal investigation and outside the specifics of the complaint. At the time of this decision, it had been this offices understanding that the Northern Territory Government had accepted all of the recommendations of the review into adult custodial operations, and that NT Corrections was currently working towards the implementation of the same. That being the case, it remained for this office to ascertain what progress NT Correctional Services had made towards the implementation of the Reports recommendations, particularly in relation to their mental health programs. The complainant was advised that, in a general sense, the outcome of any further formal investigation by this office into his specific issues of concern would be overshadowed by the effect of the Governments acceptance of the comprehensive recommendations to improve Corrections mental health programs. It was therefore decided to close the file in