NSW Government must end human rights violations in its prisons


The NSW Government has once again shown it has something to hide by denying the United Nations Subcommittee on the Prevention of Torture (STP) unrestricted access to NSW prisons, leading the body to cancel its visit to Australia.  

Greens MP Sue Higginson questions on notice found that of a more than 12 000 person inmate population in NSW, there are 1147 inmates with cognitive impairments or disabilities. Of these, only 352 inmates are receiving NDIS funding. Of more than 800 female inmates in NSW, the department says 67 have cognitive impairments or disabilities. Of the more than 3500 First Nations inmates in NSW, just 184 are receiving NDIS funding for a cognitive impairment or disability.  

Greens spokesperson for justice Sue Higginson said: 

“The NSW Government has once again failed Australia’s international human rights obligations and put NSW on the justice map for all the wrong reasons.  

“We know that some NSW prisons are not up to standard. The commissioner and department admitted this in budget estimates last year and I receive an inordinate amount of reports of denial of care and abuse of inmates, particularly First Nations inmates and inmates with disabilities.  

“The process for identifying the needs of inmates and then providing appropriate care is also questionable. I just don’t think the data provided reflects the true number of people in our prison system who have cognitive impairments or disabilities.  

“People are suffering under our prison system. Our system is more focussed on punishment than rehabilitation and the fact is people who come out of prison end up back in there and worse off. The NSW Government seems to believe that once a person is in prison they are out of sight and their human rights are not relevant and no one needs to know about it or see it. A prison sentence takes away someone’s liberty but it does not take away their human rights.  

“We need to improve our failing jailing system. We need more transparency, not less. The Greens call on the NSW Government to implement OPCAT in full and provide unrestricted access to UN inspectors to NSW prisons.” Ms Higginson said.  

OPCAT - United Nation’s Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.  

Questions on Notice questions and responses can be found here.

For media comment contact:  Sue Higginson on 0428 227 363