Ms PATTEN (Northern Metropolitan) (18:02): My adjournment matter is for the Minister for Corrections, and the action I am seeking is for the minister to work with the Minister for Housing or work with the department to solve the problem of women in prison who are on parole and cannot get out of prison because they cannot get a home. We know women are our fastest growing cohort of people going to prison. They are also one of the fastest growing cohorts of people experiencing homelessness.
We know women who go to prison are not going there for violent crimes; they are generally going there because they have been victims of violent crimes, they have been victims of family violence or they have been victims of sexual assault. They need housing support, not a jail sentence.
My office received information about a woman at Tarrengower Prison who has been eligible for parole for six months but cannot be paroled, because they cannot find her a home. This is not the state that we all want to live in, and as we know, this is not a unique case and this has been happening for decades.
Certainly I know from talking to the previous corrections commissioner that she said exactly the same thing. They just cannot parole women, because they cannot find them housing, and this is a travesty because a lot of time they cannot go back to the family home, because they were escaping family violence and that is why they are homeless.
I know that the government has announced a whole lot of new housing, but we have a waiting list of 100 000 people and I can tell you that women in prison are way down that list. Women in prison—in fact all people in prison—are way down that list, yet we have to keep them in prison because they have not got a home.
So rather than the $188 million spent to upgrade Dame Phyllis Frost Centre with some extra beds—very nice—how about we get some beds and homes outside the prisons so women can actually find a safe place to live and we can release them from prison, reunite them with their children and get them back onto a path of recovery and back into a place?
So the adjournment matter is for Natalie Hutchins to talk to the Minister for Housing and come back with some form of solution for women who are on parole and seeking release.
Fiona Patten MP
Leader of Reason
Member for Northern Metropolitan Region
Adjournment debate 6/5/21