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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 12 Hansard (22 November) . . Page.. 3817..


MR SMYTH (continuing):

It is really nice to see a bunch of local investors who took a punt and built a very large nightclub for the ACT being acknowledged for the efforts they have made. It was good to see them pick up a national award at the AHA annual general meeting.

Quamby youth centre

Environment—climate change

DR FOSKEY (Molonglo) (6.05): Yesterday I notified the Assembly that:

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 ...

The minister for children and young people responded during the adjournment debate to say that such an event had not occurred. She chose to cite departmental records showing that the safe room within the six-bed Brindabella unit to which the cage is attached had been used for only six hours of the past 17 months. She also suggested that before I made such statements in the Assembly regarding constituents I should contact her office first.

On her first point regarding the safe room, there is obviously some confusion over what different areas of Quamby are called. Inmates, community organisations and staff often refer to the entire Brindabella unit as "the cage". Since yesterday, we have received further confirmation that this young person was held in the Brindabella unit from 20 to 28 December 2005, ostensibly for the purposes of induction and behaviour management. Note that this was over the Christmas period. The only recreational access the young person had was to the cage.

Since yesterday, we have also discovered that another young person was held in the Brindabella unit from 20 December for approximately five days. This is why they had to take turns accessing the cage for recreation. The young person in question made a complaint to the official visitor near the end of the nine days, and upon the official visitor raising the issue with management the young person was released from the area. I encourage the minister to confirm in the chamber that this information is factually correct.

On the minister's second point about whether or not such an issue should have been raised in such a manner, I acknowledge her point. But this issue is not black and white. I used this case as an example of why we had concerns about the legislation being debated and I stand by my right to do so. The issue was not recent and it had already been raised in the Canberra Times a week earlier. I think it would be reasonable to assume that the minister would be aware of these occurrences via either the Canberra Times or her departmental staff. If, as her answer indicated, she was not aware, I suggest that she impress upon staff under her responsibility that they bring such occurrences to her attention in future.


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