Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 9 Hansard (1 September) . . Page.. 2736 ..
MS TUCKER (continuing):
I asked in question time about black deaths in custody, and that answer was not a satisfactory answer at all. There are consistent claims by the Government that they want to involve the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community in decisions around juvenile justice and justice generally. In the implementation report of November 1997 to November 1998 there are mentions in several sections of this Government's commitment to liaising with the community around Aboriginal issues and the justice system. This has not occurred. There is a responsibility upon a government which claims to be inclusive in its practices in this Assembly as a minority government to actually do that. They have also failed significantly in that way, and we have heard that concern expressed from members in this place during the debate.
Basically, what we have seen happen here is a major social policy initiative which has made many people in the community who have a direct relationship with the area very concerned. We are seeing an argument put in this place that this minority government, which claims to be interested in inclusive practices, which claims to be interested in consultation, which claims to be interested in reconciliation, has the right to do this regardless of the views of the community because it will not make a difference. That is only their view. Obviously, many people in the community are fearful that it will make a difference. It has made a difference in other places in Australia. I have already spoken about what happened in Queensland and I am happy to remind members about that. In Queensland they did do this. It had a significant impact. Particularly, it was very worrying that they lost the ability to have good coordination across the services that are related to the area.
We heard Mr Stefaniak say - I think it was him but I am not sure who it was - that they have just put in a protocol to ensure communication between Mental Health and, I think, Justice. The point is though that through the Social Policy Committee in the last Assembly and through this committee we have consistently been told that there are real difficulties for government in ensuring a cross-sectoral or interdisciplinary approach to the delivery of social services. It is a problem and it is acknowledged, not only in the ACT. It is acknowledged in a recent national report on homelessness. Integrating the concerns and working in a holistic and coordinated way in social policy areas such as social service delivery is a major problem for government. It comes up over and over again. The ACT is not alone in this.
What we are seeing now is a proclaimed commitment from government to ensure that, in fact, juvenile justice is going to remain about the social issues, about education, about reintegration and about family issues. The emphasis will not be punitive and correctional. The emphasis will be on reintegrating these young children back into society. They are children, basically.
We hear this commitment from the Government, and what do they do to support these stated aims? They move it. They move it away. In fact, we just heard Mr Humphries say he is concerned because juvenile justice has been isolated from the mainstream correction service. What is he actually saying? That is supposed to be the benefit of it. This service, very specifically, has to be oriented towards a strong focus on rehabilitation and so on. The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people issues are also incredibly important. As we have seen so much work in the Australian community on these issues, it is very disturbing to see how easily this Government can just say,