Page 2907 - Week 09 - Thursday, 18 August 2005
MR STANHOPE: I move:
That the report be authorised for publication.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
MR STANHOPE: I move:
That the Assembly takes note of the paper.
MR STANHOPE: On 1 July 2005, the human rights commissioner furnished me with the report of the human rights audit into the legislation and practices surrounding the Quamby youth detention centre. The Quamby audit was conducted under section 41 of the Human Rights Act 2004. This provision enables the human rights commissioner to review the effect of territory laws on human rights. It is a vital element of the dialogue model under the Human Rights Act and serves to guarantee that the measures of our human rights performance are dealt with in an open and transparent way.
The audit reviewed the effect of the Children and Young People Act 1999 on the rights of detainees at Quamby. As far as possible the review also sought to examine the effects of polices and guidelines at Quamby, focusing on the operational procedures applied by Quamby staff. The Quamby audit marks the first occasion on which the statutory audit powers under the Human Rights Act have been exercised and the first time that operational practices at Quamby have been assessed against human rights standards. It demonstrates the value of these powers in the human rights dialogue that has taken place in the territory. This is the sort of dialogue and action on human rights issues that is making a lead for the rest of the country.
The aim of the audit was to provide information and analysis to inform the government’s review of the operational, legislative and policy framework at Quamby and to assist the process of ensuring that the new youth detention facility will operate in accordance with the human rights standards. Most of the recommendations do not result from obvious breaches of the Human Rights Act. In many cases, the review identifies practices that engage human rights, but does not make findings as to proportionality. In these cases it recognises that breaches of the Human Rights Act depend on the circumstances. In effect, they can only be assessed on a case-by-case basis.
Members should note that the report was a cooperative effort by the human rights commissioner and the Office for Children, Youth and Family Support. In a very real sense the department was seeking input from the commissioner for improving the operations of what is recognised as an outdated facility, and the minister has publicly stated that she will be guided by the report in reviewing Quamby’s legislative framework and operating procedures. To that end she will be tabling a formal government response to the audit report. This is consistent with the aim of the report and with the tenor of the recommendations.
Reports such as these show that the Human Rights Act is being worked out in a spirit of cooperation between the bodies with responsibility for that task. The process shows that the Human Rights Act is not an obstacle to good administration, but an essential element