On the 23rd November 2015, Justice Action presented a proposal regarding the provision of online counselling to prisoners at the NSW Legislative Inquiry. It was a proposal to initiate a three-month trial of online counselling in cells at no cost to the government. The proposal is supported by victims group ‘Enough is Enough’ and ‘Prisoner’s Aid of NSW’.
Justice Action asked for support from Minister Elliott and Premier Baird on the 14th December 2015. We received a letter on their behalf from the Commissioner of Corrective Services, Luke Grant, which stated the department “considers an online counselling service [to] not be appropriate without adequate support or engagement with mental health staff”.
We responded with a letter that highlighted the need to implement a different system that will provide effective rehabilitation services. Despite the State Plan to reduce recidivism by 5%, the rate of adult reoffending has actually increased. The NSW Auditor-General’s Report to Parliament 2015 revealed 45.8% of released prisoners returned within two years of release.
Despite contacting Minister Elliott again on the 2nd February 2016, the proposal for online counselling has been ignored.