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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 14 Hansard (Wednesday, 8 December 2010) . . Page.. 5901 ..


I note that the minister has taken some steps yesterday to address some concerns and I think that process can go on while we are continuing with the inquiry. But the inquiry itself needs to be high level, professional, of a judicial nature and very serious. It needs to send a message. (Extension of time granted.)

I thank the Assembly because this is a very serious matter. The only way to acknowledge the seriousness of the situation and the threat that this seriousness poses to the staff at Bimberi is to take the step that I have outlined to be completely removed from government and administrative processes and influence and to be truly and fully independent.

It is the only way that we will find the real path to follow. It is the only way that the government will know the truth. It is the only way that action will be able to be taken to ensure and guarantee staff and residents that they will be safe, that they will be secure, that they will be respected and treated with dignity, that they will enjoy proper levels of communication, that the full facilities at Bimberi will be put to good and effective use and, most important of all, that the people of Canberra can be confident that the Bimberi Youth Justice Centre can live up to the claim of being a state of the art youth detention facility which truly is the first in Australia to comply with human rights requirements as well as being designed to meet human rights standards.

We have very high aspirations for Bimberi but in the nearly two years of its operation we have failed to meet those aspirations. The Canberra Liberals believe that it is time to find a way to meet those aspirations. I need to reinforce, Mr Speaker, that I believe it is incumbent upon all of the members in this place to join together. We have a moral responsibility to protect the people who live and work at Bimberi. I can find no other way to address their concerns. I commend the motion to the Assembly.

MR COE (Ginninderra) (10.44): As an MLA, as the shadow minister for youth but also as someone who has a personal responsibility to raise the issues which have been raised with the opposition, I of course very sincerely support this motion on the table today. The issues which have been raised through Mrs Dunne, me, the human rights commissioner, the Ombudsman, the media, the minister and others in this place are of such a serious nature that I think it would be remiss of us to not give adequate attention and adequate air time to them.

What might happen if we do not look into this issue as a matter of urgency and if we do not look into this issue with full disclosure and full protection for those involved concerns me. And it is to that end that I think it is absolutely vital that we arrange for the undertaking of an inquiry as per the Inquiries Act 1991.

I am concerned about the welfare of the staff at Bimberi and for the residents of Bimberi if we do not take action immediately. I am very concerned that, in spite of how horrific the events that have already taken place at Bimberi are, something even more horrific might well take place if we do not give and do not facilitate an appropriate forum whereby those with information can come forward and tell people in authority what is actually happening at Bimberi so that an appropriate strategy can be enacted to make sure that the situation does not deteriorate and does in fact improve.


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