Greens MLC Colleen Hartland has described the Baillieu government's decision to cut funds to a successful program that moves women out of the jail system and into the workforce as "a false economy".
"Melbourne Citymission’s Women4Work program puts women who have been released from prison into the workforce and supports them, and it has been incredibly successful, but the Baillieu government turns around and cuts it."
"In ten years, only one of the supported women has ever returned to prison. Compare that to the average rate of 38%, with most in the first six months from release, and you can see what a difference it makes."
Ms PENNICUIK (Southern Metropolitan) -- Last Friday, 21 October, the Lord Mayor of Melbourne, Robert Doyle, announced on ABC radio that he had arranged with Victoria Police to remove the Occupy Melbourne protesters from the city square. When I arrived just before 10.00 a.m. the city square had been fenced off, with protesters inside surrounded by about 200 police, including riot and mounted police. Over the next few hours I witnessed the most unnecessarily heavy-handed approach to the most peaceful protest that could be imagined. Police fenced off the east side of Swanston Street, and contractors smashed up tents and other possessions and threw them into rubbish trucks. I have heard people have been trying to recover their possessions with little success.
Ms PENNICUIK (Southern Metropolitan) -- I am happy to speak on the Children, Youth and Families Amendment (Security of Youth Justice Facilities) Bill 2011, which is a necessary bill because it follows on from recommendations contained in reports on the Parkville youth justice precinct by former police commissioner Neil Comrie and the Victorian Ombudsman.
Ms PENNICUIK (Southern Metropolitan) -- The Greens will support the Commercial Arbitration Bill 2011. It replaces the existing Commercial Arbitration Act 1984 with legislation agreed to by the then Standing Committee of Attorneys-General (SCAG). That legislation is based on the model law, which is the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration, and uses the uniform clause numbering of the model law, as other jurisdictions have done.
The bill aims to be as consistent as possible with uniform legislation that has already been passed by the New South Wales Parliament and came into operation on 1 October 2010. It has been passed by the Tasmanian Parliament but is yet to come into operation in that state. I note that my Greens colleagues Ms Sylvia Hale and Mr Tim Morris also spoke in support of the bills presented in the New South Wales and Tasmanian parliaments.
Ms PENNICUIK (Southern Metropolitan) -- My adjournment matter is for the attention of the Minister for Corrections. The Ombudsman tabled his report Investigation into Prisoner Access to Health Care on 30 August 2011. The Ombudsman reported serious health issues in prisons and 'grossly inadequate' access to health care for prisoners. This is particularly disturbing in light of the fact that many recommendations in the Ombudsman's report of 2006 entitled Conditions for Persons in Custody have still not been implemented.
There are serious health concerns for people in prison, with very high levels of mental illness and communicable diseases and inadequate care available. In 2006 the Ombudsman recommended a comprehensive communicable diseases policy for prisons and that condoms and dental dams be available in prisons, but they are still not available in most prisons. In addition to profound concerns for people in prison, the Ombudsman stated that 'untreated mental health issues can adversely impact on the greater community when offenders are released', and that 'improving the health of prisoners has important public health consequences'.
Ms PENNICUIK (Southern Metropolitan) -- On Friday, 30 September, I attended the launch of the Visioning Justice project, which was launched by magistrate Pauline Spencer. Visioning Justice is a collection of short radio documentaries made by young people about their experiences with the law.
Statement on Report: Scrutiny of Acts and Regulations Committee: review of Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006
Ms PENNICUIK (Southern Metropolitan) -- I would like to make a statement on the Scrutiny of Acts and Regulations Committee's (SARC) report entitled Review of the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006, which was released in September 2011.
Greens Justice spokesperson Sue Pennicuik MLC today released an independent analysis of key submissions to the review of Victoria’s Charter of Human Rights and Responsibility (the Charter) by the parliamentary Scrutiny of Acts and Regulations Committee (SARC).
The analysis shows overwhelming support for retaining or strengthening the Charter.
"Human rights are the basic freedoms and protections that people are entitled to simply because they are human beings." Amnesty International Australia
Victoria's Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 (the Charter) enshrines some rights in the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights in Victorian law. The Charter allows human rights considerations to be at the forefront of dealings with public authorities and increases public recognition of human rights.
On 14 March 2012, the Victorian government responded to the important 2011 Parliamentary committee review of the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act.
Greens Justice and Corrections spokesperson Sue Pennicuik MLC says that the release of CCTV footage showing a woman allegedly being kicked and capsicum sprayed in a police cell once again shows the need for an independent body to investigate reports or allegations of police violence.
“The CCTV footage released by the Herald Sun today is disturbing, particularly as it is reported that the person may have a psychiatric condition,” Ms Pennicuik said.
"Police say that the Ethical Standards Division will investigate the incident, but the problem is that no matter how professional the ESD is, it is not independent of the Victoria Police."