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Parliamentary Questions

Question Without Notice No. 812 asked in the Legislative Council on 14 October 2021 by Hon Peter Collier

Minister responding: Hon W.J. Johnston
Parliament: 41 Session: 1

Answered on

PRISONERS — FUNERALS — TRAVEL EXPENSES

812. Hon PETER COLLIER to the minister representing the Minister for Corrective Services:

I refer the minister to his response to question without notice number 766 asked on Tuesday, 12 October 2021.

(1) What was the total number of funerals attended by prisoners in 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2021 to date?

(2) What factors were responsible for the significant increase in the cost of prisoners attending funerals from $401 000 in 2019 to over $1.4 million in 2020?

Hon ALANNAH MacTIERNAN replied:

I thank the member for some notice of the question. The following information has been provided by the Minister for Corrective Services.

(1) In 2018, it was 345; in 2019, it was 434; in 2020, it was 708; and between January and August 2021, it is 625. That is a total of 2 112.

(2) Meeting the cultural needs of Aboriginal prisoners is an important responsibility for Corrective Services. The provision of compassionate leave implements a recommendation of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody and is especially important for Aboriginal people who often have significant cultural obligations to attend funerals. In 2017, a report from the Inspector of Custodial Services noted the declining level of compassionate leave for prisoners to attend funerals and recommended that the then Department of Corrective Services provide more options for prisoners to take compassionate leave to attend funerals so they could maintain connection with their family and community. Following this review of the criteria for funeral attendance, a more culturally appropriate definition of family was included. This saw the number of prisoners eligible to apply and be approved for funeral leave increase.