Update 1 (October 2021) – Supporting a culture of safety and respect

Today, we are pleased to launch our website for the Cultural Review of the Adult Custodial Corrections System. Announced by the Victorian Government in June, this independent Review is a critical opportunity to examine the culture, experiences, systems and processes within Victoria’s prisons and correctional centres.

October 14, 2021

What the Review will examine

The Review will draw on research, data and the direct testimony of people who have experience of the adult corrections system to develop recommendations that will promote a safer system characterised by respect, equality, transparency and support. In recognition of the continued over-representation of Aboriginal people in custody, the Review will also look carefully at Aboriginal cultural safety and self-determination.

Examining both private and public corrections facilities, the Review’s terms of reference focus on two streams of inquiry:

  • ensuring the wellbeing and safety of staff within the adult custodial corrections system
  • ensuring the system is safe for people in custody, promotes rehabilitation and caters to their needs.

As Review Lead, I am working closely with the independent Expert Panel overseeing the Review – Tim Cartwright, former Victoria Police Deputy Commissioner; Jill Gallagher AO, CEO of the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation and former Victorian Treaty Commissioner; and Greg Smith AM, former Fair Work Commission Deputy President. This leadership group brings together extensive experience working with vulnerable Victorians, a deep understanding of the justice system and expertise in workplace culture and safety.

Progress to date

In recent months, work has been underway to establish the Review, including recruiting a team with varied and multidisciplinary expertise, including in human rights law, policy reform, cultural reform, social work and corrections operations. We have finalised our research methodology and submitted our ethics application to the Justice Human Research Ethics Committee. Looking ahead, planning is underway for prison visits, expert interviews and direct engagement with custodial staff and people in custody.

Submissions sought from stakeholders and advocates

To begin our engagement phase, we will be inviting submissions from organisational stakeholders and advocates with knowledge of Victoria’s prisons and correctional centres, beginning next Wednesday, 20 October. You can make a submission now via our website, and you can also let us know if you would be interested in participating in an expert interview. We will be sharing a consultation paper which poses some key questions to help shape your response.

Opportunities for individuals to share their experiences

Hearing about the experiences of custodial staff and people in custody will be a vital input for the Review. From 1 November, we will be inviting participation from current and former custodial staff and from people with lived experience of custody, either currently or in the past, and their family members and support people. You will be able to make a submission through our website (in writing or via a voice recording), and we will also be arranging confidential interviews and prison visits in the months ahead. More information will be available on our website from next month.

If you are interested in sharing your experiences with the Review, please be assured that your privacy and confidentiality are important priorities. The Review team has extensive experience in the careful management of sensitive issues. You can find out more about how we will handle your privacy and confidentiality on our website.

As we enter the engagement phase of the Review, I and the Review team look forward to supporting custodial staff and people with lived experience of custody to share their experiences and begin this important process of cultural change.

Kristen Hilton
Review Lead, Cultural Review of the Adult Custodial Corrections System

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