Page 2070 - Week 07 - Tuesday, 21 June 2005
• a new section 420, to retrospectively declare, from the beginning of self-government, the Community Youth Justice Offices, at their various locations, to be attendance centres;
• a new section 421, to retrospectively declare Quamby Youth Detention Centre as both a shelter and institution from the beginning of self-government; and
• a new section 422, to declare Marlow Cottage as a shelter from the time of its establishment on 6 November 1995.
While the recent declarations I have made under the act provide legal certainty for the future, the amendments proposed to the act today will address the past, and together will provide a continuum of legislative and regulatory coverage dating, in large part, from the beginning of territory self-government. This is to clarify and provide certainty to the status of these places.
As I outlined earlier, the second legal issue we confront involves Quamby standing orders. The ACT Government Solicitor’s Office has advised that there is no general power under the Children and Young People Act 1999 and the Public Sector Management Act 1994 for a number of the standing orders currently used at Quamby. These include the legal basis for such actions as use of force, medical examinations and video surveillance. There is no power in the act that gives specific authority for standing orders in regard to these and other such issues.
In the two periods when Quamby was part of ACT Corrective Services, the authority for standing orders may have been drawn from the Remand Centres Act 1976. The proposed amendments to the Children and Young People Act at section 403, in relation to standing orders, will give the minister the power to declare standing orders by disallowable instrument for a broad range of specified purposes. It will also allow, at section 418, for a strict 28-day period, for the minister to declare standing orders with retrospective effect. The purposes for the standing orders include powers of search, mail, phone calls, education and behaviour management strategies. Under section 419, the Chief Executive of my department will be required to review the standing orders and provide me with a report within three months of the commencement of these amendments. This clause is necessary, as the standing orders will be redeveloped over this period, on the basis of advice from the Human Rights Commissioner, in relation to compliance with the Human Rights Act 2004.
Earlier this year, after discussions between the department and the Human Rights Commissioner, the Human Rights Commissioner began a review of Quamby. The purpose of this audit is to gain her advice on what changes were necessary to enshrine the principles of human rights in the practices at Quamby. We will be guided by her advice.
Finally, I refer to the question of official visitors under the act. Members will know that official visitors are independent people appointed by the minister. They advocate on behalf of children and young people in detention, hearing complaints, making enquiries, and working to find a satisfactory solution. Our examinations have discovered that the current official visitors were appointed by way of a notifiable instrument, rather than a disallowable instrument, as required for statutory appointments under the Legislation Act 2001.