The ACT Human Rights Commission is seeking clarification about the dress standards imposed on visitors at Canberra's jail which included a ban on swimsuits, tight-fitting clothing and skirts shorter than mid-thigh.
Visitors who failed to meet standards set out in a leaflet at the visitor reception area were exposed to denial of entry to "preserve the good order and security of the prison".
On the jail's inappropriate list were "low-cut tops, mesh clothing and any high-visibility clothing typically worn by contractors".
Women appeared to be the target of prohibiting "sexually provocative clothing or clothing that exposes underwear, genital areas or breasts".
The dress standards even specified underwear.
"As a minimum, visitors into a prison must wear underwear (including bras for women)" and "pants and skirts/dresses should be no shorter than mid-thigh" the prison document stipulated.
Any "underwear that is visible through clothing" were grounds for refusal of entry.
Canberra's Aboriginal health service, Winnunga Nimmityjah, described the dress standards as "value-laden and subjective" and "suggestive of a moral judgement about certain dress" and sought an urgent review to "ensure those aspects of the code that are sexist or otherwise gratuitously offensive are removed".
"It is difficult to see what right the ACT government believes it has to dictate to a woman visiting the AMC whether she can, for example, wear clothing that may leave a bra strap visible or expose her cleavage," Winnunga said in a statement.
"It would be surprising if the dress code is not in breach of the Sex Discrimination Act".
When The Canberra Times brought the printed standards to the attention of ACT Corrections, all copies were immediately withdrawn from circulation and an apology issued "to any individuals that may have been impacted by this incorrect application of the correct policy".
"This document was not approved in any way by executive staff within ACT Corrections or at the [prison] prior to distribution," a corrections statement said.
The ACT's Human Rights Commissioner, Dr Helen Watchirs, aims to clarify the status of the document given to jail visitors.
"This will include confirming, that if it is a new policy or practice, how rights such as equality, freedom of expression and privacy were considered in its formation," Dr Watchirs said in a statement.
"Also relevant is that the Discrimination Act protects people from unfavourable treatment because of their sex."
The commission said that the material "does raise some concerns across several areas".
"This includes rights protected under the Human Rights Act, which must be considered in the decisions and actions of ACT Corrective Services."
If you rode a bicycle out to visit anyone at the jail, then your attire might also breach restrictions as the ban included "tight-fitting clothing including that which is made with spandex or lycra".
And those consumers who paid a premium for fashionably pre-ripped and frayed jeans also found themselves in breach of the requirement which prohibited "excessively torn, dirty, ripped or frayed clothing".
Technology and jewellery, too, came under scrutiny.
Any watch that performs a functions other than telling the time, such as an Apple watch, was not permitted and "excessive" jewellery was ruled out, although how much was deemed excessive was unclear.
Winnunga was also concerned that the standards applied in a public place, not in private.
"It is not uncommon people who have, in the view of prison staff, failed to meet the standard are so advised in front of a room full of people," Winnunga said.
"It is surely belittling to be informed in front of a room full of strangers that because of the nature or standard of your dress you cannot enter the prison."
ACT Corrections confirmed its visits policy and dress standards would be reviewed.