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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 9 Hansard (23 August) . . Page.. 3233 ..

MR BERRY (continuing):

for the public safety. But it seems to me that there are more chances of gaining a better outcome for these young people if we target our services correctly in the first place, in the community generally.

I would have liked to have had time to visit other centres throughout the country to see what other people are doing, but my visit to Quamby told me that the people there working with these young people are totally committed to their job and fully understand their obligations to the community and to these young people in the course of performing their duties. Our obligation is to make sure that they have all of the tools.

Quamby was, I suspect, state of the art at the time of its construction, which was eight or 10 years ago. If we were building a facility today, we would not build it to look like Quamby and it would not have the same sorts of furniture and fittings that Quamby has. We would do it differently. Again, that is without having had the opportunity to go and look at more up-to-date facilities in other places.

There are always stories about Dickensian facilities in other places. This is not one of those, but it is certainly not up to date. What tends to happen with these facilities is that, if a new need arises after one is built, there will be an addition to the facility. So it goes on until we get a mixture within the facility such that, if we were building a new one today, we would come up with something entirely different. That is the case with Quamby, and I think it has got to be looked at more closely to see whether we ought to consider something different in the very near future. That is an extremely important issue for us to consider.

Some of the facilities out there are not of a standard that I think is good enough. They are the product of the development of Youth Justice Services over the last few years, and I think we need to revisit the provision of those facilities. If you had your druthers you would probably build a new one. The recommendations of this report, if taken into account by the government, will give a better result to young people at our youth justice facilities.

Throughout this inquiry and the inquiry prior to this, the message that came through to me is that early intervention is the key to all of this-early intervention from the first time young people come into contact with government services, whether that is before preschool, at preschool, in kindergarten or in the early years of school. That is when the intervention has to occur if we are ever going to make an impact on these issues, if we are ever going to be successful. That is not to say we should ignore our obligations to the people who did not have the intervention we would have wished to give them-people who have, to use the adage, "fallen through the cracks".

That is why, as each day passes, I am more committed to our plan to switch the money from the ridiculous free school bus plan back into schools, where it will have an effect and where we can provide services to young people on a needs basis, reduce class sizes and do the sorts of things that in the past we might only have dreamt about. Early intervention is the key. We all know that, but we have to practise what we preach.

It might have been politically attractive for the government in the lead-up to an election to try to hand out a lolly to a small section of the community in the form of free school buses, but they have abandoned their duty to young people in their schools by this

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