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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 8 Hansard (24 August) . . Page.. 2317 ..

MS TUCKER (continuing):

serve the young people detained there and the long term interest of society. The change in culture from Education to Justice will not be conducive to this required outcome - a juvenile centre is not best served if it is in any way linked with the adult criminal service.

I think it is really important that people like the Official Visitor do have an opportunity to have their views heard on this matter. Quamby is a facility where we see very vulnerable children being looked after. It is a facility where we have seen a young person die. I do not believe the Government can justify the transfer of Quamby to Justice and Community Safety just because the coroner made a recommendation which, in my view, had a qualifying statement anyway, in that it did say that further consideration of the recommendation should be part of what an inquiry would look at.

I think there are some serious issues that need to be addressed. I understand the Northern Territory Government is the only government that has amalgamated juvenile justice with adult corrections. All other States place juvenile justice amongst family, youth or community services or have it as an autonomous department. I believe it is very important that an Assembly committee have an opportunity to talk about these issues with the community. The Education Committee is the appropriate committee, because it is the committee to which responsibility would have fallen if government had not made this sudden change without consulting with anybody.

I will be moving a motion tomorrow to ensure that we have these matters left where they were until such an inquiry has reported. I do not think it would be very good practice to say that it is okay, which seemed to be what Mr Humphries was just saying, to move the responsibility to adult corrections and then if the committee says it is not the best thing to do then it can be moved back. That is six months down the track. It would be far better, one would think, to look at these issues before a move is made.

The Official Visitor's correspondence also expressed concern about the impact of this further change when they are already in a state of readjustment and change themselves and this could have a detrimental impact on people who are working, I would suggest, in good faith to try to remedy the situation at Quamby so that we do not see another tragedy occurring there. As I said, we are talking about a facility which looks after the most vulnerable young children. We are talking about children in our care, and it is absolutely critical that we know that how we are looking after them is as good as it can be. That is why I am asking for support from members to amend this motion of Mr Humphries' to have this inquiry done by the Education Committee.

MR BERRY (4.23): Labor will be supporting this amendment. I think it can be fairly argued that the Government acted quite arrogantly in relation to this matter. There was not any consultation with other members of this Assembly before the Government moved the way it did, unilaterally, to transfer these arrangements. I should also say that the Standing Committee on Education had responsibility before this and, as Ms Tucker has said, there has been communication from some people in the community expressing concern about this transfer.

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