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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 14 Hansard (Wednesday, 8 December 2010) . . Page.. 5992 ..


I can also give assurance that the appropriate minister, the Attorney-General, can include in his request for the commissioner to undertake this work that he does report back to the Assembly and that we will afford absolute assurance around protection, confidence and transparency in this review.

It is certainly a challenging environment. Youth justice is tough work. It is tough work for the workers. It is a complex environment. But that said, we as a society and a government should do all we can to give all assurances that the young people within the system are protected and have good outcomes and those that work within the system are afforded a safe and secure work environment.

The government commits to supporting Ms Hunter’s amendments.

MS HUNTER (Ginninderra—Parliamentary Convenor, ACT Greens) (5.09): I will speak to Mrs Dunne’s amendment. I have been speaking with Mrs Dunne over the last couple of days around this motion. It did start with an inquiry being held under the Inquiries Act. I had my office do some further investigation into this; I felt that that was not necessarily the right way to go and started to investigate other ways that could be explored to still ensure an independent inquiry.

I do understand the concerns that Mrs Dunne has expressed in this chamber. I share those concerns. This has been very fraught and difficult. It is a very vexed issue. I have spent quite a lot of time going over this particular point, particularly in the last 24 hours; it has not been easy, I can assure you.

At the end of the day, I believe that the Children and Young People Commissioner is an appropriate person to conduct this inquiry under the Human Rights Act. What I did to add another aspect to this inquiry was to have a human rights audit of Bimberi as well. The Children and Young People Commissioner has a very long history here in the ACT, working with young people in youth services and as the youth advocate or through the Public Advocate’s office over many years. He understands the systems; I believe he is a very important person to be able to undertake this particular inquiry.

I am pleased to note the minister’s comments that the Department of Disability, Housing and Community Services will fully cooperate with the inquiry. One of the issues that have been raised is that under the Inquiries Act there are powers to compel people to provide evidence or information. This is not available under the Human Rights Act, although in discussions my office had with the human rights commissioner—as we know, the human rights commissioner has undertaken an audit of the Belconnen Remand Centre and has undertaken an audit of the Quamby Youth Detention Centre—to date there has been cooperation in the audits that have been undertaken.

I reiterate again that although my amendments to the motion talk about the minister, it is quite clear that this is under the Human Rights Act, and the minister under the Human Rights Act is the Attorney-General. I again take the word of the Minister for Children and Young People that the attorney will be reporting back to this Assembly. Along the way, I will be following this extremely carefully. I will be watching this


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