Emma Fitch

Justice Agencies
Summer 2013

Over the 2012/2013 summer – autumn period I undertook a twelve-week part-time Aurora legal internship as part of the Aurora Native Title Internship Program,, where I was fortunate to receive my first preference with the Australian Capital Territory Corrective Services (ACTCS). ACTCS aims to provide a safe, secure and humane custodial environment and an effective community corrections scheme in which offenders are effectively managed. ACTCS aims to reduce recidivism by providing services and program interventions that address the causes of offending, to maximise chances of reintegration back into the community.

I was placed within the Policy Unit, Business Policy and Coordination Branch. This section is involved in policy work for the criminal justice system and the Alexander Maconochie Centre (AMC) in Canberra, with their work having significant impact on non-Indigenous and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. There is a strong focus on reducing the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander over-representation in the criminal justice system and that this goal is met in a culturally appropriate way. I felt incredibly grateful to work in this area.

During my time at ACTCS, I have assisted in a review of the detainee management policy for non-Indigenous and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander detainees at the Alexander Maconochie Centre (AMC), working towards culturally appropriate compassionate leave. I have also assisted in the ACT Corrections’ Review of the Implementation of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody criminal justice relevant recommendations. I have visited the AMC with visitors from the Northern Territory who were facilitating plans for the commissioning of a new prison in Darwin. I have shadowed a parole officer in Probation & Parole, and also examined our child sex offender program, comparing this to other jurisdictions which may inform future research into the efficacy of our programs.

Over the course of the placement I learnt valuable skills about policy-writing, how to approach large research projects, how to liaise with external contacts to retrieve information, how to act professionally in difficult situations and the complex nature of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander issues more generally within the criminal justice system. Experiencing different areas within ACTCS has assisted in identifying future career options and to understand the work of the Justice & Community Safety Directorate.