Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 12 Hansard (21 November) . . Page.. 3673..
DR FOSKEY (continuing):
we were not allowed to see them. I am also somewhat concerned about the long time it has taken to review the standing orders. When we dealt with the government's previous amendments to the Children and Young People Act on 1 July 2005, the minister said that her department would provide her with an analysis of the standing orders within three months, and that was up 15 months ago. This analysis was to incorporate recommendations from the human rights audit of Quamby.
On the one hand, I do understand that the review of standing orders has taken much longer than anticipated, as it has included a lot of consultation and comprehensive analysis. I hope, as a result of this hard work, all new standing orders will operate within human rights principles. But on the other hand, the longer the government takes to conduct this work, the longer children and young people detained in Quamby must experience standing orders that have been found to be human rights deficient.
We have recently been told of one case where a young person, upon entry to Quamby, was held in the cage for nine days for the purposes of induction and behavioural management—or those were the reasons given. The young person in question was held in a bare cell with nothing but two blankets and two books. The only recreation available was transition from that bare cell every second hour to the concrete cage, where the young person was given a soccer ball and a cricket ball with a plastic bat that was later removed. One would hope that such conditions are unwarranted under the new standing orders and that the ACT government will find the budget and the commitment very soon to develop an alternative to this cage.
The human rights audit of Quamby also recommended that the detainees handbook be updated as a matter of priority. Over a year later it still has not been updated—but, of course, that may be because the standing orders are not yet complete. I look forward to these concerns being remedied by the ACT government as soon as possible.
MR STEFANIAK (Ginninderra—Leader of the Opposition) (11.44): Mr Speaker, the opposition will be supporting this bill. I note that the original bill, which I think I introduced back in about 1999, was due to be reviewed within three years of its commencement. I also note that the government has indicated that a rewrite of the original bill is well under way, that extensive community consultation was undertaken between January and March of this year, and that an exposure draft of the bill will be issued for public consultation later this year. That, of course, is absolutely essential.
The bill effects a number of changes. It removes two sunset clauses: firstly, in relation to the exemption of work experience from the employment charter; and, secondly, in relation to the power to make standing orders for the youth detention centre. This bill is part of the government's ongoing commitment—and we acknowledge that—to seek to improve outcomes for children, young people and their families through improving their participation in decisions that affect their lives, preserving and enhancing identity and improving the recognition and assessment of children and young people at risk of abuse and neglect.
As I have indicated, the bill seeks to amend the act by removing two sunset clauses. The power to make standing orders for places of detention has been extended until December 2006 to allow for a detailed consideration of the policy matters related to youth justice, particularly that delivered at the Quamby youth centre. This is to allow a detailed