Ms PENNICUIK (Southern Metropolitan) -- The Corrections Amendment Bill 2012 has 50 clauses and makes quite a range of changes to the principal act, the Corrections Act 1986. In his second-reading speech the Minister for Corrections, Mr McIntosh, stated that the bill:
... will amend the Corrections Act 1986 to implement a range of reforms to the delivery of correctional services by strengthening the governance framework underpinning the prison and community corrections systems.
The bill is peppered with some minor and technical changes with which we do not have any issue, but there are also a couple of more significant changes that I would like to go through in some detail.
Part 3 of the bill implements nationally agreed amendments to the Parole Orders (Transfer )Act 1983, which is the act governing transfer of parolees between jurisdictions. Having looked through those changes we are supportive of them.
The government has said that the bill also implements recommendations from the Ombudsman's report entitled The Death of Mr Carl Williams at HM Barwon Prison -- Investigation into Corrections Victoria, and the Sentencing Advisory Council's report on the Victorian adult parole system, but that is not entirely the case.
There are some departures from the recommendations, particularly those from the Ombudsman. I read through that report when it was released in 2012 because I had put forward a notice of motion to obtain some documents from the Department of Justice regarding its approval of the placement of prisoners in Barwon prison at the time. Although the President subsequently moved that that notice of motion was out of order because it was sub judice, I have long had an interest in what was actually going on.
While this bill attempts to make some changes to prevent dangers to the safety and welfare of prisoners, I am not quite sure it will achieve them. I will talk more about that later on in my contribution.
In her contribution Ms Pulford mentioned that she would be interested to hear from government speakers regarding particular aspects of the bill. I have given notice to the government that I would like to take this bill into committee.
I will be asking questions around certain clauses, in particular clauses 5, 6 and 7, which go together, clause 12 and clauses 32 and 33 in regard to the drug testing and searching of offenders by corrections staff.
As I said, there are quite a few amendments made to the Corrections Act by this bill. Many of them are not controversial -- for example, allowing the appointment of a non-employee of the Department of Justice to act as a principal medical officer in relation to prisons, enabling officers to provide oral and written information to the secretary of the department in relation to the security and good order of the prison or for the safe custody and welfare of prisoners as well as the security and good order of a location or the safe custody and welfare of offenders at a location. This comes into play when people are on community corrections orders, which the Greens believe more people should be on.
Previously the bill stated that officers must make 'returns and reports', which was somewhat unclear language. This bill clarifies that by changing the wording to 'must provide oral and written information to the secretary'.
The bill renames 'official visitors' as 'independent prison visitors' and makes associated consequential amendments, and we support that. The bill provides that the secretary must notify the Victorian Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages of certain details in relation to prisoners, which will enable the registrar to know if a particular prisoner is not permitted to change their name. That situation currently exists with regard to parolees but not for people still in the prison system. The bill provides new provisions for the authorisation of the use or disclosure of personal or confidential information to make sure that is not misused. It permits associate judges to be appointed to the Adult Parole Board of Victoria.
The bill allows dentists to be included on the list of those health professionals who prisoners may request to attend. I understand that this already happens but that dentists are not included formally on the list. It allows interest to be earnt on prisoner trust funds to be used for the purpose of assisting victims of crime and their families. This is quite a broad provision, and perhaps a government speaker -- Mr O'Donohue is in the chamber -- might be able to go to the criteria and safeguards of the provision and what particular purposes that interest may be put to.
The bill also provides new powers under the act to direct offenders to submit to alcohol and drug testing for the management, good order and security and safety of the welfare of offenders or in order for an offender to perform unpaid community work on a community corrections order.
The bill also provides regional managers with the power to order a community corrections officer to search and examine an offender at a place the offender is required to attend for education, for recreation or for any other purpose. Whilst at face value that seems reasonable, the questions that gives rise to are: who is conducting the searches and drug and alcohol testing, under what conditions and with what training, and what safeguards are in place for these offenders? The context is that these offenders are not offenders in prison but offenders who are in the community performing community work on community corrections orders. There are some questions to be answered as to how that provision will be implemented.
The bill also provides the adult parole board with the power to revoke parole even though the parole period has expired if the offender is subsequently sentenced to any term of imprisonment for an offence that occurred during, or partly during, the parole period.
At present the provision in the act is that it must be an offence that has attracted a sentence of more than three months. This is probably not going to affect all that many people, and we are prepared to support it; however, I will ask some questions regarding that provision during the committee stage.
I also query why this particular amendment is in this bill when the next bill we are going to be discussing is all about parole and changes to the parole system. In this bill of 50 clauses with a host of unrelated amendments this one was just popped in there when the very next bill we will be debating is all about parole. When I say the next bill is all about parole, it is actually not all about parole because another amendment has been snuck in. People who read the title of the bill -- Justice Legislation Amendment (Cancellation of Parole and Other Matters) Bill 2013 -- will be surprised to see changes inserted into it to deal with the representation of children in the Children's Court of Victoria -- that has nothing to do with parole. I do not know why the government is making such ad hoc changes to the legislation.
One of the most significant amendments introduced by this bill is the new police custody transfer order scheme, where permission will need to be sought from the Supreme Court of Victoria for a prisoner to be absent from prison to voluntarily provide information to Victoria Police. It is based on recommendation 36 of the Ombudsman's report.
Acting President, I interrupt my own contribution to suggest that the members to my left, including the Minister for Planning, are making it very difficult for me to concentrate.
Hon. M. J. Guy interjected.
Ms PENNICUIK -- I think every member should have the chance to speak without undue noise around them, particularly when there is noisy laughter. I was wondering whether you could ask members to quieten down, because I do that when other members are speaking.
Returning to police custody transfer orders, this is a serious issue because the situation where prisoners may voluntarily provide information to police can put them in danger.
Certainly that was the case with Carl Williams, which is only too clearly laid out in the Ombudsman's report as to how that prisoner, whatever he may have been convicted of doing, was put in great danger by the actions of the police and the Department of Justice. Certainly anybody looking at the situation from the outside would have been able to see that.
One of the controversial aspects of the bill concerns the provisions in clauses 6 and 7. Clause 6 inserts in the principal act section 6D(2A), which provides that a person under a police custody transfer order is deemed to enter the legal custody order of the Chief Commissioner of Police when a police custody transfer order is made and physical transfer of the custody of the person has occurred. Once they have been physically transferred they come under the legal custody of the chief commissioner. The explanatory memorandum states in relation to clause 7 that:
... legal custody of a person subject to a police custody transfer order ends when physical custody of the person is transferred to a person acting under lawful authority on behalf of the secretary.
Recommendation 38 of the Ombudsman's report is that prisoners remain under the legal custody of Corrections Victoria. That is an issue that has been raised, and during the committee stage I will be asking about the rationale for that. I noticed that Ms Hennessy, the member for Altona in the lower house, mentioned section 464B of the Crimes Act 1958 with regard to this. This is not about someone voluntarily offering to provide information to police but about someone being involuntarily removed from prison to be questioned by police, so it is a slightly different situation. The person has not agreed to provide the information but is being removed to be questioned by police. My reading is that under that provision the person is in the legal custody of the person acting under the order, which I presume is the police.
It would be good to have these issues clarified.
The other significant issue with the amendments made by the bill is with regard to clause 12, which is to amend section 30A of the principal act to allow a victim to be given a copy of an order made under the Serious Sex Offenders (Detention and Supervision) Act 2009 in relation to a perpetrator. The statement of compatibility says that under section 30A(3):
... the secretary must not disclose the information if he or she reasonably believes the disclosure of the information might endanger the safety or welfare of the offender. In addition, the extent of distribution of the offender's personal information is limited. Section 30A(2AA) of the act requires that there be a nexus between the registered victim and the offender in question.
That is the case under the act at the moment. Under the act victims have to be registered in order to be supplied with the information by the Department of Justice. Under the current act the victim is entitled to receive certain information about an offender with respect to imprisonment sentences and supervision orders made under the Serious Sex Offenders (Detention and Supervision) Act 2009. A victim can receive details about the length of a prisoner's sentence, the date on which and the circumstances in which the prisoner was, is to be or is likely to be released from any sentence and the details of any escape by the prisoner from legal custody. If an extended supervision order, supervision order or detention order is made in respect of an offender, the secretary may give to a person on the victims register some or all of the following information: whether such an order was made, the date on which the order commenced, the period of the order and any instructions or directions given to the offender by the adult parole board and any details of any changes affecting the operation of the order.
Under the act registered victims are currently entitled to quite extensive information about the offender, and rightly so, but clause 12 says a copy of the order may be given to the registered victim. We do not have any evidence or rationale for why the full order should be disclosed to a victim. Liberty Victoria has raised with us strong concerns about this provision. There is a contradiction between what the minister said and what the department said about this. Our advice from the department is that in practice a victim would not be entitled to receive personal information about an offender, for example, their residential address or curfews -- that is, when a person needs to be at a certain place or at another place. This will continue with the order having that information redacted when given to the victim. I am not sure that that is clear from the bill, because the bill does not say that, so I would like some clarification as to the interplay between section 30A(3) and the new provision that amends section 30A, and whether the more identifying information will still be redacted from an order if it is to be given to a registered victim.
That is definitely a concern of ours. As I said, when my staff member called the department they were assured that such detailed information relating to where the offender lives, curfews et cetera would be redacted from the order. We would like some clarification on that, because the release of this information could lead to forms of vigilantism or the harassment of offenders or the persons involved in their treatment. It may not only be the offender who is put in danger but also the departmental staff who are working with the offender if they are attending rehabilitation or other programs, other members of the public, family members or friends of the offender. We need to be careful, because once this information is released to a victim it will be impossible to control its further dissemination. A victim may innocently pass this information on to someone who uses it inappropriately. As I said, we support the entitlement of registered victims to information, and they are already entitled to receive information under the act, but we are concerned about the extension of that provision.
In regard to police custody transfer orders, the bill provides that a member of the police force of or above the rank of assistant commissioner -- so very few members of the police force; in fact, only assistant commissioners and the commissioner -- will be able to apply to the Supreme Court for a police custody transfer order if a prisoner wishes to voluntarily provide information to the police, and other thresholds specified are satisfied. I will not go through those other criteria in detail.
The Supreme Court may make a custody transfer order if satisfied with the grounds of the application and if adequate consideration has been given to security and welfare risks. This would provide for a prisoner to be absent from prison for a maximum of three days. The order must not authorise the overnight absence of a prisoner except in exceptional circumstances. This is a very difficult area in terms of dealing with prisoners who are serving custodial sentences and who may volunteer to provide information to the police. Notwithstanding the change in this provision -- which has changed from the secretary giving approval to a court now needing to hear the application, and that is certainly a good thing -- I am not sure that it overcomes the problem of other prisoners finding out that a prisoner has given information to the police and the problems that will arise for the prisoner in that regard.
More needs to be done, and certainly in his report the Ombudsman made some observations on the removal of Mr Williams from HM Barwon Prison. Permits to move Mr Williams from Barwon prison for a total of 11 days were granted by the commissioner of Corrections Victoria, Mr Kelvin Anderson, in December 2008, and by the commissioner of Corrections Victoria, Mr Robert Hastings, in February 2010. The Ombudsman, Mr Brouwer, said:
When issuing these permits, Corrections Victoria failed to:
conduct an adequate risk assessment;
follow its internal policies and procedures in relation to the approval of both permits;
consider Mr Williams' safety on his return to the prison;
ensure that their decision-making in relation to both permits was well documented;
maintain accurate records of the permits granted.
In addition the Ombudsman stated:
There was no supporting documentation to demonstrate that a risk assessment had been conducted by Victoria Police.
On the death of Mr Williams, he said:
Corrections Victoria failed to review Mr Williams' placement arrangements at critical milestones --
... failed to address major shortcomings in its intelligence systems ...
It also failed to:
... monitor the placement of Mr Johnson with Mr Williams --
despite many people having given those warnings. The Ombudsman's report also states that a prisoner had said:
... everybody (at Barwon prison) knows that Mr Williams is cooperating with Victoria Police ...
I have every faith that the Supreme Court will look to these issues and will be aware of the recommendations made in the Ombudsman's report. The Ombudsman made quite a number of recommendations particularly with regard to the running of the prison and behaviours and cultures therein, which I will not go into in detail here; members can read the report for themselves. But it is incumbent on government speakers to let us know what progress is being made on the implementation of the other recommendations in the Ombudsman's report in relation to the facts surrounding the death of Carl Williams in April 2010.
In addition in his report the Ombudsman referred to the Office of Correctional Services Review (OCSR) and said:
I have previously commented on the inability of the OCSR to perform its role as a body responsible for monitoring the effectiveness of Corrections Victoria's management of Victoria's prison system, given its location within the Department of Justice. It has not adequately addressed the issues identified in my review of the corrections inspectorate in 2007 and a review of complaints referred to the OCSR in 2010, namely: a lack of separation from those who undertake correctional roles the OCSR is monitoring and reviewing; limited transparency and accountability; investigations that vary in quality; and a failure to complete investigations in a timely manner.
Further, media reports late last year on the plight of a 16-year-old Aboriginal boy who was held in solitary confinement at the Charlotte maximum-security unit have not been followed up. In the previous Parliament I said that we needed an independent prison inspectorate. The Office of Correctional Services Review, notwithstanding the calibre of the people there -- and I do not cast aspersions on them; I am casting aspersions on the structure -- is not separate from the Department of Justice. Following the death of prisoner Carl Williams the Secretary of the Department of Justice was not investigated by the OCSR because that office answers to the secretary. In a structural sense that is not satisfactory at all.
I have mentioned the Western Australian model. The Western Australian custodial services inspectorate is a statutory authority. It is independent of the justice department. It has statutory responsibilities to carry out inspections of prisons.
I cannot recall if it is every two or three years, but it must inspect every prison every two or three years and can inspect any prison or custodial facility on its own motion. It publishes all its reports on its website. This is not the case with the Office of Correctional Services Review. It is not accountable and transparent to the people of Victoria, and it needs to be.
While we are putting in place new provisions under this act -- and the provisions that relate to court oversight are welcome -- it is not within the powers of the Supreme Court to oversee the operation of the prisons and custodial facilities in a way that an independent prison inspectorate can. That is another necessary change to the corrections system in Victoria. I urge the government to look at the models that exist in other jurisdictions that have moved to independent oversight of corrections and that may go some way to alleviating many of the other problems that were identified by the Ombudsman in his report.
I have concerns that some of the more significant provisions in the bill may not necessarily achieve what they are set out to do. Some questions have arisen about those provisions which I have outlined in my contribution. I look forward to questioning the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations, who has just entered the chamber, on those issues.
The Bill In Committee Stage:
Ms PENNICUIK-- Given the bill aims to act on certain recommendations, particularly recommendation 36 of the Ombudsman report, The Death of Mr Carl Williams at H M Barwon Prison -- Investigation into Corrections Victoria, can the minister provide the chamber with an update as to the status of the implementation of the other 57 recommendations made by the Ombudsman to the Department of Justice and the Minister for Corrections, in particular recommendations 15 and 16 in relation to the Comrie review, the implementation of the recommendations of that review and the reporting to the Ombudsman of the same?
Hon. R. A. DALLA-RIVA (Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations) -- I apologise for the delay; I was trying to get some clarity from the advisers. From what I understand, Ms Pennicuik is talking about recommendations 15 and 16 of the report. There is some confusion about which recommendations Ms Pennicuik is talking about as opposed to the recommendation the bill is dealing with. Could Ms Pennicuik clarify that? The advisers are a bit unsure as to what she is after.
Ms PENNICUIK (Southern Metropolitan) -- If I can elaborate slightly, there are 57 recommendations, and I should correct myself by saying that one of them is being implemented by this bill. All the recommendations go to the situation surrounding the death of Carl Williams. One of the recommendations of that Ombudsman's report is implemented by this bill, one is contradicted by this bill -- recommendation 38 -- but all the recommendations go to that issue.
The police transfer custody scheme that this bill introduces is not unrelated to the other 55 recommendations in the Ombudsman's report. I think about 30 of the recommendations are for the Department of Justice and relate to procedures and processes in the prison system. The rest are for the Minister for Corrections and relate to reviews and training-type matters. In recommendations 15 and 16 the Ombudsman asks for the outstanding recommendations of the Comrie review to be implemented and reported to him. I am asking for an update on what is going on with these recommendations, given that they are almost a year old.
Hon. R. A. DALLA-RIVA (Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations) -- I thank the member. I understand. I will seek guidance on that.
My advice from the department is that the legislation before the chamber is not related to the matters Ms Pennicuik has raised.
Ms PENNICUIK (Southern Metropolitan) -- I think that is a fairly unsatisfactory answer; that is all I will say. The government should be able to update us on that matter. A significant part of this bill is about the ramifications of moving prisoners out of prison and the effects on their safety and welfare. The installation of the new provisions about that transfer is not unrelated to everything that is in that report. I think an update could be provided. I suppose I will have to take it up with the Minister for Corrections, but I am disappointed that I have not been able to get that information during this committee stage.
Clause agreed to; clauses 2 to 4 agreed to.
Ms PENNICUIK (Southern Metropolitan) -- I have given the minister notice of questions I have for clauses 5, 6 and 7, which are all related. The questions relate to the issues raised by the Ombudsman's recommendations 36 and 38 with regard to which person has legal custody of a prisoner when there is a police custody transfer order. It appears that under these three clauses, although we will talk just about clause 5 for the moment, the Chief Commissioner of Police has legal custody of the person while they are not physically under the roof of corrections, to put it that way.
However, the Ombudsman recommended otherwise, which was that even while the person is in the physical custody of the police they remain under the legal custody of Corrections Victoria. The bill departs from what the Ombudsman recommended in that regard, so I ask the government to explain the reasons for that. There may be good reasons for it, but I am not sure what they are.
Hon. R. A. DALLA-RIVA (Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations) -- In relation to the specific questions asked by Ms Pennicuik, and I thank her for providing those questions beforehand, recommendation 36 of the Ombudsman's report into the death of Carl Williams was that the Minister for Corrections consider introducing amendments to the Corrections Act 1986 to provide that administration of justice permits be approved by a judge or magistrate.
The new police custody transfer order provisions are in response to recommendation 36.
The effect of the order will be to transfer the legal custody of the prisoner from the secretary of the department to the Chief Commissioner of Police for the period when, in accordance with the order, a member of the police force or a person acting under lawful authority on behalf of the chief commissioner takes physical custody of the prisoner until the prisoner's return to the physical custody of a person acting under lawful authority on behalf of the secretary.
The transfer of legal custody of the prisoner to the Chief Commissioner of Police could potentially be interpreted as being inconsistent with recommendation 38 of the Ombudsman's report, which is that a prisoner absent from prison under an administration of justice permit should 'remain in the custody of Corrections Victoria'.
However, in light of the background to the recommendations and the practical issues involved, recommendation 38 has been interpreted to mean that should amendments implementing recommendation 36 not proceed, then the secretary should retain physical custody of a prisoner who is absent from prison under a permit issued under the existing provisions. The transfer of legal custody of a prisoner to the Chief Commissioner of Police under a police custody transfer order is consistent with other existing provisions of the Corrections Act 1986 and the Crimes Act 1958 in situations where physical custody of a prisoner is also transferred.
Ms PENNICUIK (Southern Metropolitan) -- When I was speaking in the second-reading debate I raised the issue of section 464B(4) of the Crimes Act, which I think does the same thing.
If a person is involuntarily taken from a prison -- that is, they do not want to go, or they do not want to cooperate with the police but are taken away to be questioned -- their legal custody is vested in the police, even though they may not be removed from the prison; is that correct? In this case a prisoner would be removed from the prison, so they would not physically be in the custody of Corrections Victoria. They would legally and physically be in the custody of the police. I see advisers to the minister nodding at me, but can the minister confirm that that is the case and that the rationale for that is it is regarded as the sensible way to proceed?
Hon. R. A. DALLA-RIVA (Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations) -- For the purposes of Hansard, given that nods from the advisers box cannot be transcribed, I can confirm that the answer is yes, as Ms Pennicuik has outlined.
Ms PENNICUIK (Southern Metropolitan) -- I am not a lawyer, but other people may know the answer to this. If a person has been sentenced to a custodial sentence and is then transferred to a prison, I wonder about the legal ramifications of the person being physically removed from the prison. They are still under sentence of a court, but under these provisions they will physically and legally be under the control of the police. How does that work if something goes wrong -- that is, if the prisoner escapes or something like that?
Hon. R. A. DALLA-RIVA (Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations) -- Even if prisoners are in the physical or legal custody of the police, they are still serving their sentence. If they escape, the consequences are the same as if they had escaped from prison.
Ms PENNICUIK (Southern Metropolitan) -- I am sorry that I did not furnish the minister with this supplementary question. What if the prisoner were to meet with an accident and die whilst in police custody? Whose responsibility is that? Is it the police's responsibility, even though the person is serving a sentence but is being moved out of the prison whilst serving that sentence?
Hon. R. A. DALLA-RIVA (Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations) -- The advice I have is that the police have a duty of care to the prisoner whilst the prisoner is in their custody. Whether the prisoner is in the custody of the police or corrections, the liability still falls to the state of Victoria.
Clause agreed to; clauses 6 to 11 agreed to.
Ms PENNICUIK (Southern Metropolitan) -- Clause 12 provides that a registered victim may be given copies of orders and information about a prisoner who is under a supervision order or a supervision and detention order. Under section 30A of the Corrections Act 1986 a registered victim is able to receive detailed information. That is detailed in that section, and I went through it during my contribution to the second-reading debate. I am sure I do not have to detail it again for the minister. I am not familiar with these orders; I have not seen one. How much more information is contained in an order that the victim may be given under that section than what is outlined in section 30A, which is entitled 'Victim may be given certain information about a prisoner'?
Hon. R. A. DALLA-RIVA (Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations) -- In clause 12 the bill amends section 30A of the principal act, which deals with the provision of information to victims of crime to remedy an anomaly that allows a victim to be given information about an order made under the Serious Sex Offenders Detention and Supervision Act 2009 (SSODSA), which includes conditions and directions given by the Adult Parole Board of Victoria in relation to the perpetrator but not a copy of the actual order.
It is relevant that a victim of a sexual crime be given a copy of the offender's SSODSA order. Under the Serious Sex Offenders Monitoring Act 2005, which was replaced by the SSODSA, many of the order conditions and details other than standard conditions were imposed by the adult parole board. Under the SSODSA these conditions are imposed by the court. Unless a victim has a copy of the order, they will not have full knowledge of how the risks posed by the offender are being managed.
The bill will ensure that a copy of the order can be provided to victims of the offender. It is noted that the secretary will continue to be able to redact sensitive information such as the address of the offender and will not have to provide the order to a victim of an offender if the provision of the information may endanger the safety or welfare of the offender.
Ms PENNICUIK (Southern Metropolitan) -- I start by saying that we support registered victims receiving information of a general kind about supervision or detention orders that the offender is serving, but the minister finished by saying that the secretary can redact information such as where an offender is residing if they think there may be some danger to the offender.
In my contribution to the second-reading debate I said this should not just apply to the offender's address, because if information about where the offender is attending programs -- for example, rehabilitation programs -- is released, then persons other than the victim may find that and persons other than the offender may come into some danger by being associated with the offender. That includes the people delivering the programs, officers of the Department of Justice and other people who may be around. It is an important issue.
My question is: on what grounds would it ever not be a danger to release that information? I cannot think of a situation where it would not be potentially dangerous to release that information -- that is, the residential address or the whereabouts at certain times of the day or night of the offender, particularly if the offender is attending programs, for example.
Hon. R. A. DALLA-RIVA (Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations) -- The particular clause we are discussing is about remedying an anomaly in terms of allowing the victim to be given information about an order made under the SSODSA. The details of the location of programs will not be on an order. As to whether it is appropriate to disclose the address of an offender, it would depend on the circumstances. For example, in the example I was given by my advisers, it could be where an offender is residing at Corella Place in Ararat. That would be an example.
Ms PENNICUIK (Southern Metropolitan) -- Rather than this particular provision, my question would be whether there could not have been a different provision, which was that certain additional information under the SSODSA could be provided rather than a copy of the order per se. The minister mentioned earlier that that is the problem -- that the information that can be provided under clause 30A of the principal act does not include information that can be provided under the SSODSA. I think that is what the minister was saying. Was there not some way that just those words could have been added without reference to the issue of the copy of the order?
Hon. R. A. DALLA-RIVA (Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations) -- I am advised that the amendment rectifies an anomaly that allows all of the information about an order to be given but not the order itself.
Ms PENNICUIK (Southern Metropolitan) -- Perhaps we got more complicated than we needed to, because I thought that is where we were at the start, but then we went around the world discussing the other act. If we take Corella Place out of the equation -- and I do not necessarily agree that it should be revealed either, because there could be issues with that -- is the minister able to tell me that there would not be an occasion where the residential address of an offender would be released to a registered victim?
Hon. R. A. DALLA-RIVA (Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations) -- The advice I have is that it is very unlikely that it would be disclosed. There will be circumstances, as I have outlined -- for example, when an offender is residing at Corella Place -- but again it would depend on the circumstances.
Ms PENNICUIK (Southern Metropolitan) -- I understand the sensitivities around this issue, and as I have already said, I am very supportive of the current provision in the act whereby information is provided to victims to assure them of everything they need to be assured of -- that offenders are under supervision, being detained or attending programs. However, you are not able to assure me that the residential address of an offender in that situation will not be released. I have concerns with the safety of that person and, as I have mentioned, the safety of people who may be involved in delivering programs to that person or who may be living at the same residence as that person.
If the victim, or someone associated with the victim, takes it upon themselves to, as they say, take the law into their own hands, there is a risk that somebody may end up being hurt. Often it is the people who are not the subject of the order who end up being hurt, because this information may end up with people other than the victim. I think this is a risk that we should not be taking, and the minister has not been able to assure me that that risk will not be present with the release of the full copy of the order. I am not convinced that this amendment needs to be made, because under the current act the victim is provided with quite a lot of information regarding the situation of the perpetrator and is also updated of changes in the circumstances of the person who is the subject of the order. As it stands, unless the minister is otherwise able to convince me that it will not put anybody's safety in jeopardy, I will not be able to support this clause.
Hon. R. A. DALLA-RIVA (Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations) -- I am somewhat surprised at Ms Pennicuik. We have taken the view as a government that this is a very heinous crime, and as I have indicated, it would be fair to say that it is very unlikely that an offender's address would be disclosed. These are matters relating to serious sex offenders who are under detention and supervision. I think it looks bad that the Greens would consider opposing this clause that was really established to remedy an anomaly in terms of a victim of crime being given a copy of the order.
I have tried to be reasonable. I have indicated that there would be exceptions, like Corella Place, a facility where serious sex offenders reside under detention or supervision.
I think the suggestion put forward by Ms Pennicuik is wrong and would send a very bad signal to the broader community that the Parliament is not united in ensuring that victims of serious sex offences are afforded the right to an understanding that perpetrators of these offences are being managed appropriately and that victims' concerns are being dealt with. The government would suggest strongly that Ms Pennicuik reconsider her position on clause 12 and support it.
Ms PULFORD (Western Victoria) -- It is probably an appropriate point in the discussion on this clause to state for the record the Labor Party's position. We see no reason to oppose clause 12. The current state of law and practice is that victims are given this information, but there is no enabling provision. This clause will facilitate the information on the certificate being able to be taken as a copy by the victim.
Opposition members do not share Ms Pennicuik's concerns about the way in which this information could fall into the wrong hands or be misused, so we will be supporting the view that this clause stand part of the bill.
Ms PENNICUIK (Southern Metropolitan) -- I want to respond to what the minister said in the conversations we have been having about this clause. The issue that it turns on is the release of the residential address of an offender to a victim, which the minister said would be unlikely to happen.
Hon. R. A. Dalla-Riva -- Very unlikely.
Ms PENNICUIK -- The minister says it is very unlikely to happen. The minister has raised the issue of Corella Place and has implied that that would be the only time when the residential address of a person subject to an order who is residing at Corella may be released. I put it that that could still be problematic, depending on who has that information. The minister said the release of a residential address is very unlikely, but I want to explore that because that is the issue. It is not about the order, because I am presuming most of what is on the order is the same information in the spirit and the substance that is contained in section 30A of the principal act, which I read out earlier and do not want to read out now. It refers to the terms of the order, the conditions of the order, changes to the order, changes to the status of the person subject to the order, et cetera. I have no problem with that information being released to registered victims, as it is now, so I am not opposing that. I do not want the minister putting on the record that I am opposing that, because I am not.
Hon. R. A. Dalla-Riva -- You are opposing clause 12.
Ms PENNICUIK -- I am questioning the minister about clause 12; I have not opposed it at the moment. I have said I am concerned about the release of an offender's residential address to a victim, which may end up going further than to the victim. It may come into the hands of other people, which could put in jeopardy the safety of the offender and other people.
Hon. R. A. Dalla-Riva -- Very unlikely.
Ms PENNICUIK -- I am interested to know more, because the minister is saying 'very unlikely' and that the secretary has the ability to redact that information. What would convince the secretary that that information would be fine to release?
Hon. R. A. DALLA-RIVA (Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations) -- Clause 12 of the bill is headed 'Victim may be given certain copies of orders and information about a prisoner', and we are discussing a particular part of it. I need to go back to what I said earlier -- maybe we missed it in the communication on other matters -- but it was about remedying an anomaly that allows a victim to be given information about an order. I indicated that it is relevant that a victim of a sexual crime be given a copy of an order, but under the Serious Sex Offenders (Detention and Supervision) Amendment Act 2012 conditions are imposed by the court, whatever those conditions are. Unless the victim has a copy of the order -- and I think this is important -- they will not have full knowledge of how the risks posed by the offender are being managed. In the government's view, of course it is paramount that a victim have full knowledge of how an offender is being managed within the orders. This bill will ensure that copies of the orders are to be provided to victims of an offender.
In short, it is noted that the secretary of the department will continue to be able to redact sensitive information when providing an order to a victim of an offender if the provision of the information may endanger the safety or welfare of an offender. In that statement I excluded 'such as the address of the offender', because that is what I said earlier. I think we may be at cross-purposes in the sense that Ms Pennicuik thinks it is only related to the address.
To put it in a different light, it is noted that the secretary will continue to be able to redact sensitive information when providing the order to a victim of an offender if the provision of the information may endanger the safety or welfare of an offender. It may include such things as the address of an offender.
I think it would be fair to say, as Ms Pennicuik has rightly pointed out, it would not be in the best interests of the secretary, hence I said 'very unlikely' for the purposes of this bill, to provide details that would not only create a situation, such as one Ms Pennicuik has outlined, but which also may put at risk other issues, such as identification of the victim and other matters. I fully understand where Ms Pennicuik is coming from. I think we are at cross-purposes. I must say -- and I will put it on the record on behalf of the government -- that government members' primary concern will be about ensuring that the victim has full knowledge that the risks posed by an offender are being managed.
Ms PENNICUIK (Southern Metropolitan) -- I thank the minister for what he has said, and I take the point that perhaps I did not quite get it earlier, as I had handed my notes, including a copy of section 30A of the act, to Hansard. However, I now have a second copy of section 30A, which is very handy.
That section refers to the information the secretary may give about the details of the length of a prisoner's sentence, the date on which the prisoner was released or is likely to be released, details of escape, et cetera. The minister is saying it does not give the details of the supervision order following the release. Is that what he is saying -- that is, that under section 30A they cannot get that information?
Hon. R. A. DALLA-RIVA (Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations) -- We are just trying to find what Ms Pennicuik is referring to. The advisers are drilling through some legislation.
Ms PENNICUIK (Southern Metropolitan) -- Perhaps the minister could ask the advisers what the difference is between the information that can be given under section 30A(2) and section 30A(2AA), which appears to relate to supervision orders?
Hon. R. A. DALLA-RIVA (Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations) -- The advice I have is that section 30A(2) of the Corrections Act deals with prisoners, and section 30A(2AA) deals with people on post-sentence orders under the serious sex offenders act. That is the advice I have, unless Ms Pennicuik wants to clarify that.
Ms PENNICUIK (Southern Metropolitan) -- I am sorry this is rather prolonged, but it is an important point. I found my copy of section 30A of the act and read through it again. My question is: what is the difference between the information that can be provided under section 30A(2AA) and what is written on the order?
In essence, what is the difference between getting the order and getting the information as outlined in subsections (2AA) and (2AB)?
Hon. R. A. DALLA-RIVA (Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations) -- I apologise for the delay; we were just getting it correct. The order contains conditions. Without a copy of the order the victim may not get all of the information which is relevant to how the risk is being managed. This is an anomaly, and that is why it is being corrected.
Ms PENNICUIK (Southern Metropolitan) -- The minister says it is an anomaly, but under section 30A(2AA) there is quite a lot of information about the operation of the order that can be given. In order to reassure me that this is a necessary provision perhaps the minister could tell me why section 30A(2AA) is insufficient, because the advisers are saying, 'No, that is not comprehensive'. In what way is it not comprehensive?
It appears to talk about the making of the order; the date on which it commences; the period of the order; any instructions, directions, variations or changes affecting the operation of the order; if it is renewed, the date on which it was renewed; details of any changes et cetera. What is in the order that is additional to this?
Hon. R. A. DALLA-RIVA (Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations) -- Under the old scheme the order had set conditions. Under the new scheme the court will determine the conditions. As one of the advisers said, one condition could be to not attend a swimming pool on an afternoon for certain reasons. Ms Pennicuik is asking for micro details about what may not be included. That could be anything arising from the courts now having the opportunity to set the conditions.
Ms PENNICUIK (Southern Metropolitan) -- I thank the minister for that information. I understand that he is trying to assist me, but it is on the micro details that the whole thing turns. It is all very well to put in here a copy of the order, but I need to be reassured that people on these orders and their victims are not at risk. I have raised before in the house that the public identification of an offender is a risk to the victim because they may not want to be identified, and releasing residential addresses et cetera is an issue.
I am hearing that the minister is saying that is very unlikely to happen and I am weighing up whether 'very unlikely' is enough for me, bearing in mind that the secretary has a duty of care to that person and I am sure will be exercising that duty of care. If the minister has any more to add, I would be happy to hear it.
Hon. R. A. DALLA-RIVA (Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations) -- I will reiterate for Ms Pennicuik's consideration that this amendment makes no difference to the secretary's ability or practice in relation to providing information about an offender. It will make it neither more nor less likely that the victim will be advised of the offender's address, and I can only reiterate that it is very unlikely that it would be disclosed. I have tried to explain the circumstances where an offender's address, such as Corella Place, may be disclosed, but I make the point that the government's perspective is to ensure that the victim has full knowledge of how the risks posed by the offender are being managed, and I think we should all be supporting that.
As I said before, if the provision of the information may endanger the safety or welfare of an offender, that information would be redacted as the secretary saw fit.
I think on the balance of probabilities and reasonableness you would find that it would not be the situation that the government would expect matters to be revealed that would put the victim or indeed the offender's family at risk should circumstances permit.
Ms PENNICUIK (Southern Metropolitan) -- I thank the minister. I think after a long dissection of this clause we have got to a position where in his final statement he has probably said what I have been wanting to hear the whole time we have been debating this clause. I thank him for that.
Clause agreed to; clauses 13 to 31 agreed to.
Ms PENNICUIK (Southern Metropolitan) -- With regard to alcohol or drug testing of offenders -- and I presume this relates to offenders who are on community corrections orders, so they may be in the community and may be suspected to be affected by drugs or alcohol -- I have a brief question about the people who are going to undertake these tests. I seek reassurance on the training and the ability of those people to do the tests safely -- for their own safety and the safety of the person being tested. What are the protocols that will be in place for that? I suppose I am asking: who has done that testing previously? Has it been the police, for example?
Hon. R. A. DALLA-RIVA (Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations) -- I am advised that, as currently occurs, the drug and alcohol tests are conducted by contracted pathology services. I am advised not to mention the company. The drug and alcohol tests are conducted by contracted pathology services, the name of which I am obliged not to mention for fear of favouring one above the other.
The tests are not undertaken by corrections staff; they are undertaken at the direction of those staff.
Ms PENNICUIK (Southern Metropolitan) -- I notice that testing could include urine tests, which I presume are looking for drugs other than alcohol. I have some experience on this issue in terms of drug and alcohol testing because I did a lot of work for the Australian Drug Foundation on that issue. There were a lot of conversations and debates amongst the experts about what standard we are testing to. Is it that an offender on a community corrections order has to be under .05, for example? There are a lot of questions that this clause raises, but usually if someone is affected by alcohol such that they cannot perform whatever they are meant to be performing that can be pretty well told without having to resort to a breath test.
What is the actual outcome?
A urine test will take some time, so what is the outcome with the actual offender? If they are suspected of being under the influence of alcohol or drugs, are they removed from that program; are they sent home? What happens?
Hon. R. A. DALLA-RIVA (Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations) -- Ms Pennicuik has probably heard me say this a few times on other bills, but it will depend on the circumstances. There were a lot of 'what ifs'. If I can give the example of someone using a chainsaw while under the influence of alcohol, they would most likely be sent away. However, if they were found to have illicit drugs in their system, they would be dealt with in an entirely different manner. In this instance it would depend on the circumstances of the case, the application of the particular work site and the type of substance detected.
Ms PENNICUIK (Southern Metropolitan) -- This would only come into play if the person was suspected of being under the influence, so it is not just a random testing regime?
Hon. R. A. DALLA-RIVA (Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations) -- For the purpose of Hansard, the nodding means that that is correct.
Clause agreed to.
Ms PENNICUIK (Southern Metropolitan) -- With regard to the searching of offenders on community corrections orders who may be out in the community, are those searches solely undertaken by corrections officers or would other persons such as members of the police be involved?
Hon. R. A. DALLA-RIVA (Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations) -- As is currently the case with community corrections officers, searches of offenders at work sites and other locations will be conducted by security and emergency services group officers, qualified emergency response group officers or other appropriately trained community corrections staff. This could be in response to a particular issue of concern and could involve the use of trained dogs to detect drugs. Currently field officers do not conduct searches, and they will not conduct searches under the new provisions.
Ms PENNICUIK (Southern Metropolitan) -- For the record, is that only where there is a belief that the person needs to be searched? It is not just a random testing regime?
Hon. R. A. DALLA-RIVA (Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations) -- I am advised that it could be random in circumstances where the regional manager believes the search is necessary for the security or good order of the place or the offenders at the place.
Ms PENNICUIK (Southern Metropolitan) -- In that case would records be kept?
Hon. R. A. DALLA-RIVA (Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations) -- The answer to Ms Pennicuik's question is yes, as outlined at the bottom of page 18 of the bill, where it states that:
A regional manager must establish and maintain a register of searches conducted under this section.
Clause agreed to; clauses 34 to 50 agreed to.
Reported to house without amendment.
Motion agreed to.
Read third time.