Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 14 Hansard (Wednesday, 8 December 2010) . . Page.. 5909 ..
inquiry, this indeed would be independent: that information would come forward and that we would not have staff at Bimberi who do have concerns just not listened to. That is going to be a key part of what happens through this whole process. We do want to hear from the minister. I hope that she gets up and speaks after I have sat down, after I have finished here.
Again I will say that we are conflicted on this issue. It is very complex. There are a lot of issues to consider here. We want to make sure, primarily, that we do the right thing by not just the staff—we need to do the right thing by the staff at Bimberi—but also the young people and the families who are associated with Bimberi.
I hope that the minister gets up and speaks after I have sat down. We do need to hear from her today. This is her portfolio; this is her department. There have been concerns raised and they need to be addressed.
MS BURCH (Brindabella—Minister for Disability, Housing and Community Services, Minister for Children and Young People, Minister for Ageing, Minister for Multicultural Affairs and Minister for Women) (11.16): I will say at the outset that in all work I do I have the young folk at Bimberi at the forefront—providing opportunities for them and providing an environment for them that is safe and that has a benefit to them in the short and indeed the longer term.
As you know, I released some work yesterday. I have instructed DHCS to undertake some reforms around its operations at Bimberi to address the concerns that I have heard, either directly or indirectly, through the media and through my Assembly colleagues. Some of that work has already commenced. Again, today, we have heard a number of concerns raised at Bimberi.
I need to put on record that I am not immune to those concerns. I hear them and they do affect me. I have concerns for the young residents at Bimberi, for their families, for the workers and indeed for the facility itself. I am concerned to ensure that we create an environment there that is operating in the best interests of the children but is also a safe, secure and supportive environment for the workers there.
Yesterday I announced the appointment of an expert in youth services to conduct a review of Bimberi. Mr O’Neill is the director of youth services with Richmond Fellowship. He will work with both staff and young people during the period to review the quality of services and to identify opportunities for improvement. The review will commence in January and will be accompanied by a range of immediate changes to communication practices between management, staff and young people—and government agencies and the community services that come in and support the young residents of Bimberi.
In addition to that, implementation of a number of measures has already commenced to address immediate concerns raised by staff and young people, including the recruitment of nine youth workers, who have undergone training and will commence duties at Bimberi next week. This will bring the staffing numbers amongst youth workers at Bimberi to the full contingent, which will considerably ease staffing pressures. In addition, the department will undertake regular recruitment campaigns to ensure that we over-recruit to minimise disruptions during unplanned and planned staff absences.