Territory Stories

Debates Day 2 - Wednesday 17 May 1995



Debates Day 2 - Wednesday 17 May 1995

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Parliamentary Record 10


Debates for 7th Assembly 1994 - 1997; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 7th Assembly 1994 - 1997




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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory

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Attribution International 4.0 (CC BY 4.0)

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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory



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DEBATES - Wednesday 17 May 1995 At this point, I would like to thank the minister and members of his staff for the briefing provided to me today. I sought clarification of some of the definitions. I wanted to know what type of people were official visitors and under what circumstances. It was explained to me that these people are often volunteers. They are community people, often from church groups, who visit the prisons and who probably have a different perspective on things from board members who might be looking more at the administration of the facility than necessarily at the welfare of juvenile offenders. Two previous types of identification are now to be omitted from section 31(1). One relates to handwriting and the other to voice recordings. These are no longer included as means of identification. I did not ask the minister why those have been omitted and perhaps he can clarify that. I thought that, with technological advances, such identifying material would be used more and more. Apparently, that is not the case here. A new section 65A is to be inserted to allow for the early release of detainees within 48 hours of the end of a sentence to facilitate the return of the detainee to their place of residence. It was explained to me that detainees often finish their sentences at a time when there is no appropriate transport back to their community or to their centre. This will provide the juvenile detention authorities with the flexibility to allow those detainees to complete their sentence a little earlier if it is more convenient in order to allow them to return home. Section 69 is amended mainly to allow for the keeping of computerised as well as other records. That reflects the changes that we have seen in technology and the increasing use of computers for record and data storage. Section 74 adds a further instruction to official visitors that they shall not interfere with or give instructions to an officer. Not only shall they not give any instructions to an officer during a visit, they shall not give any instructions after a visit. Perhaps there have been problems in the past with that. I accept that as a reasonable amendment. Clearly, the visitors are not there to provide instructions to staff, but to provide information, presumably to the minister or to the board on problems or issues as they see them. Section 91 has an additional subsection (IB) to explain that, if a detainee absconds, the period of absence from the place of incarceration will not be included in the time of the sentence which is deemed to have been served. In other words, if the detainee is at large for 21 days, that will remain as unserved time on the sentence. There are also some minor word changes to the regulations. The opposition does not see too many problems with the bill after having had the opportunity to speak to the minister about some of the issues. We were concerned that, unless some of the conditions were spelt out in this debate, there was nothing in the legislation to prescribe some of the circumstances. I refer particularly to the transfer of 17-year-olds to prison and the placing of a juvenile in isolation. Under the current section 53B, a juvenile who has been sentenced to detention in a juvenile detention centre may remain there to serve out their period of detention and would be transferred to a prison only on becoming 18 years of age. Clause 9 provides for a juvenile to be transferred from the detention centre to a prison within 28 days of reaching 17 years. The ministers reason for this amendment, given in his second-reading speech, was that the act does not apply to those who are 17 years old and it is 3296