Page 2910 - Week 09 - Thursday, 18 August 2005
It is important to note that there are also positive aspects in the audit. The commissioner was impressed with the high level of commitment and professionalism of Quamby staff, highlighting that Quamby was the recipient of the 2002 National Training Authority Award for Excellence in Training in a correctional environment. The audit recognised that the department supports and encourages staff who wish to increase their qualifications, noting that 90 per cent of staff had completed a Certificate 4 in Community Services (Child Protection, Statutory Supervision and Juvenile Justice). Importantly, the audit did not find any instances of serious abuse, but rather highlighted issues of concern.
When juveniles enter Quamby, it is usually the last step of many in the intervention process. As the human rights commissioner noted, young people are sent to Quamby as punishment, not for punishment. I believe strongly in this principle, but I also believe that there must be an understanding amongst our young people that there are consequences to actions. This life principle is the basis of successful citizenship. It underpins the way we manage young people in detention and our response to the recommendations of the human rights audit.
The audit report contains a list of 52 recommendations. Of these recommendations, the ACT government has agreed to 25 and agreed in principle to the remainder. We are adopting a staged approach to meeting these recommendations. This is not because we are idle or lack will. It is necessary because the current physical structure of Quamby imposes severe restrictions on the capacity of the department to manage the diverse needs of its residents. These restrictions have been well documented.
To date four of the audit’s recommendations have been implemented in full. These are recommendations 2.3 relating to the use of the seclusion cell; recommendation 7.5 relating to cardio equipment for female detainees; recommendation 15.1 relating to management oversight of videos and DVDs; and recommendation 15.2 relating to the delivery of weekend newspapers.
The vast majority of the audit recommendations relate to the areas of classification and placement of detainees, the behaviour management system and personal cell and correspondence searches. A review of the current standing orders for Quamby is currently under way and will be completed by the end of next month. As part of this process there will be a review of policies and procedures for Quamby. Importantly, these reviews will address 30 of the 52 recommendations.
A further review of the behaviour management system has also commenced and it is expected that this will be completed by October. Janet Rickwood, a former official visitor, has been engaged to undertake the review of the behaviour management system and additional experts will be consulted during this review, due for completion in October. These reviews will also inform the operation of the new facility and be undertaken in close collaboration with the Office of the Community Advocate and the Human Rights Office.
The limitations of the current youth detention facility have meant that segregation of detainees on the basis of gender, age or whether the detainees have been sentenced or are on remand has been problematic. The current facility is also inadequate in relation to