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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 11 Hansard (19 October) . . Page.. 3297 ..

MS TUCKER (continuing):

open to abuse. Many in the sector believe that it should be tightened up, that the broad principles contained at the beginning of the Bill should be reinforced in this section of the Bill; in particular, that this form of order can be used only as an order of last resort.

Another concern expressed is that therapeutic protection orders are just a quick way of getting rid of problem kids. Rather than investing in social, capital and preventive intervention programs for families and children, the state picks up the kids who should have been picked up by good early intervention. These kids are seriously alienated from society, suicidal or violent towards other people. The need for such a facility or for such provisions in legislation is seen by some, quite rightly, as a failure of the system.

Many in the sector are also concerned about the provisions of the Bill which will allow children to be virtually isolated because these provisions could be a recipe for disaster, with the experience in the justice system showing that isolated inmates are more prone to depression and are more suicidal. On this issue, similar models for therapeutic care units in the United Kingdom put a lot of emphasis on social contact for children in secure units. These units, described in the journal Community Care of November 1990, put a strong emphasis on continuing relationships with friends and family. Social contact and communication are central to any rehabilitation of children held in these facilities, and supervision, where necessary, should be sensitive and unobtrusive. Surely there are resource implications there.

If we are going to take into account all these concerns and manage the confinement of children in a sensitive, appropriate, constructive and healing way there must be resource implications. This sector is already under stress and we cannot afford to have more cuts in other areas of service provision because we want to see this one properly resourced, and we will. It will be under the spotlight. This is a controversial measure to begin with and there is a real concern out there that, because the spotlight will be on these therapeutic protection orders, the resources will go there. We will be glad for those children if that occurs, but what will be the cost for other children in the ACT who are trying to access services and what will be the consequences for the people working in the field, who will become even more frustrated at the inadequate support that they are getting?

I have circulated a number of amendments to Division 5, as I have to the activities of the Official Visitor. I have also circulated a number of smaller amendments relating to ensuring children's rights and the rights of indigenous people are pre-eminent for those moving through the justice system. I will discuss those more in the detail stage of the debate.

MR WOOD (4.27): As we aim to do the best for some of our young people, those who are troubled, neglected or find themselves threatened, we find ourselves in difficult waters. It has never been easy, but I believe that this Bill goes a long way towards improving the circumstances in which we can help them. That help is essential. How best to provide it can sometimes provide different answers.

As I debate this Bill, I want to highlight one case that came to me recently because it was a case that concerned me. It is just one aspect of measures to provide care and one

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