Moore report made easy

THE Moore report, released yesterday, has been received with mixed responses.

The report which looked at the implementation of a needle and syringe program at the Alexander Maconochie Centre, written by Public Health Association of Australia CEO Michael Moore, made seven recommendations.

Chief Minister Katy Gallagher said she hoped to make a decision on an NSP in AMC by the end of the year.

However, Shadow Corrections Minister Jeremy Hanson has stood by his stance, that the AMC should not have an NSP.

The seven recommendations, listed in full below, included a recommendation that the ACT government amend the current legislation to require the establishment of a NSP at AMC.

As part of the report, Mr Moore with deputy CEO Melanie Walker traveled to Europe to visit prisions in Germany, Luxembourg, Switzerland and Spain to understand the practical elements of a NSP in a prison environment.

They also consulted prisoners and their families, custodial staff, ACT Health staff, Community health and related services providers to complete the report.

The report suggests one of three models. The first plan would see a distribution of needles and syringes on  a ‘one for one’ exchange basis conducted from the Hume Health Centre by an external agency.

If there was evidence of inadequacy from the external agency in model one, the exchange would be run by ACT Health staff.

Another plan would be to see the distribution of needles and syringes on a ‘one to one’ exchange basis by the use of series of machines located in convenient and unmonitored locations. The machines will be supported by ACT Health Staff or by an external agency.

Seven recommendations for the implementation of a needle and syringe program at the Alexander Maconochie Centre.

Recommendation 1: requirement under law
– The ACT Corrections Management Act 2007 be amended to require the establishment of a needle and syringe program at the AMC.
Recommendation 2: rules procedures and protocols
– A clear set of rules, procedures and protocols be established through an appropriate process guided by the ACT Corrections Management Act.
Recommendation 3: implementations through a flexible contingency approach
– Adopt a contingency process for the implementation of appropriate model/s for a needle and syringe program at the AMC.
Recommendation 4: Aboriginal health worker
– Recruitment of a dedicated Aboriginal health worker position in NSP and related service provision would be worthy of consideration.
Recommendation 5: secure syringe disposal bins
– The installation of secure syringe disposal bins would further reduce the potential for accidental needle-stick injury and be worthy of consideration even without the implementation of an NSP.
Recommendation 6: retractable syringes technology
-Future developments in retractable syringe technology will need to be considered as part of the ongoing development of NSPs in custodial settings.
Recommendation 7: protection from criminal and civil liability
-Legislative amendments be considered to protect all staff from potential civil and criminal liability.

What they say…

Chief Minister and Minister for Health, Katy Gallagher:
“I find this issue one of the most difficult issues to deal with in public policy In my time.
“On one hand we have significant health issue, we have 65 per cent of prisoners being Hepatitis C positive, evidence of risk taking behaviour in the jail, needles being identified, dirty needles, home-made needles that are obviously being shared and we have anecdotal evidence that this is happening in the jail and how do you deal with that?…
“Prisoners are marginalised people don’t rate their health as high as people in the community and we should rate the prison officers needs higher than the prisoners needs, it’s very easy to do but is it the right thing to do as policy maker, as a decision maker? Probably not so therefore from my own point of view, how do we work with people to address their concerns and that’s the work i asked Michael to look at specifically.”

Public Health Association of Australia CEO, Michael Moore:
“One of the key elements of this is it should never be seen in isolation it is part of a broader health issue and part of a ‘dealing with drugs’ issue…
“Nobody is going to be able to give an absolutely perfect solution because prisons are complex places…
“What became really clear to me when I was looking at NSP overseas was there are really  strict protocols that operate in the needle and syringe program – it is not a free-for-all.”

Shadow Minister for Corrective Services, Jeremy Hanson:
“It’s important to say the Liberals oppose a needle and syringe program at Alexander Maconochie Centre. I’m convince as ever that it would be a big mistake…There is a program that is failing and is not effective…
What we think should occur is a review of procedures in the jail to minimise drugs and needles and contraband  getting into the jail..
“Our position hasn’t changed, what the report shows us is that any option is unworkable.”

ACT Greens acting spokesperson for Health and Corrections, Caroline Le Couter:
“The Greens are very interested at programs and policies that will reduce the harm caused by drugs and the rate of drug use in our prison.
“The reality is that people with a drug addiction will find inventive ways to obtain and use drugs even when in prison.  Denying this fact would an irresponsible and high risk policy for any party to take.”

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