MS TIERNEY (Minister for Corrections) — I rise to update the house on the Andrews government’s programs to strengthen Aboriginal prisoners’ cultural connections and reduce recidivism through grants worth almost $2.5 million. Last Thursday, 16 March, I joined the member for Geelong in the Legislative Assembly, Christine Couzens, at the Aboriginal Justice Forum in Geelong to announce the Kaka Wangity, Wangin-Mirrie Aboriginal cultural program grant recipients. These grants, which will be funded until 2019, are part of the Andrews Labor government’s commitment to the Aboriginal justice agreement, building on the work of successive Victorian governments in response to the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody. They are designed to drive down the over-representation of Aboriginal people in Victorian prisons, better rehabilitate Aboriginal prisoners and ultimately drive down recidivism amongst Aboriginal offenders. The organisations delivering the culturally focused programs in prisons and community correctional services include the Aboriginal Family Violence Prevention and Legal Service, Connecting Home Ltd, the Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency and Relationships Australia Victoria.
At the forum I also announced a $710 000 grant for a continuity of Aboriginal healthcare pilot to be rolled out over the next two years. The pilot will ensure that Aboriginal women exiting the Dame Phyllis Frost Centre and men exiting the Dhurringile Prison and the Fulham Correctional Centre will continue to get the care they need as they re-enter the community. The pilot will be delivered by three Aboriginal-run organisations. It might not sound like it, but it certainly is true that ensuring people remain healthy is imperative to ensuring that they stay out of our justice system. Many prisoners who come into our care are in poor health. Ensuring they are accessing health services when they leave our care helps those men and women continue to keep their life on track, keep out of prison and, hopefully, keep out of trouble.