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?
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.