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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 14 Hansard (Wednesday, 8 December 2010) . . Page.. 6001 ..


The good stories have come to an end. Bimberi is in a mess. There is no-one in this place who gainsays any of the information that we have provided here today, but you are prepared to have the second-best inquiry. The Canberra Liberals will not support the second-best inquiry. The Canberra Liberals believe that we should have the best possible inquiry, with the most powers available and the best possible inquirer.

There is, I think, a high level of agreement that the Children and Young People Commissioner may be the best possible inquirer, but he does not have the powers. By his own admission, he is not sure that his own legislation delivers him the powers. And the people of the ACT deserve the best. The young people who live in Bimberi deserve the best. The people whose lives are on the line in Bimberi deserve the best. The myriad people who are on sick leave, stress leave and extended leave, who talk to me on the phone, in tears, deserve better than this.

The people have said to me: “I cannot go back to work. I want to work for these young people and I do not have the facilities to do it. I do not have the management support to do it. There are not enough of us to work with these young people. We have practices that we are not being able to follow through because we do not have the staff.” The people who suffer are those few staff, and the people who suffer more are the young people who do not reap those benefits that could be available to them.

Ms Hunter heard today from someone who rang her, and that somebody rang me as well, and told us of a resident who has been there for five years. He is now an adult and will be soon leaving Bimberi. He has been there for five years. He is functionally illiterate and he does not have a year 10 certificate, despite being a compliant resident for five years. That is a failure of the system. That is just one of the failures of the system. What is going to happen to that young person when he leaves Bimberi without the capacity to get a job because he is functionally illiterate?

Why, after two years in a new facility, are we in a situation where staff member after staff member, teachers, youth detention officers, are telling us, are crying to us, begging us to do something to make this better and these people, the Labor Party and the Greens in their coalition, have coalesced and colluded to give us the less-best option? The people of the ACT, the staff of Bimberi, the residents of Bimberi, have been let down today.

We have a Chief Minister who has sat here, dumb, all through this. And I have to ask the question of the Chief Minister: what has the Chief Minister done to address the entirely unprofessional behaviour of his minister? What has he done? Has he done anything to satisfy himself that his minister, Ms Burch, is complying with the ministerial code of conduct? It does not matter how broadly you read the ministerial code of conduct, when somebody is telling you that there is a problem and you go, “La, la, la, la, la,” with your hands over your ears, that is not professional behaviour. That is not how you treat people, according to this ministerial code of conduct.

What has he done about it? Has he faced the minister and said, “Tell me what happened at that meeting. Did you really call the residents of Bimberi Youth Detention Centre, the people who are in our care, little buggers, naughty little buggers,


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