Page 209 - Week 01 - Wednesday, 16 February 2011

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The staff who are talking to us all know why there are changes out in Bimberi. They know who is responsible for effecting changes out in Bimberi, and it is not this minister, who by her own admission waits 30 days to be told about the use of force, by her own admission to staff does not know what is going on, and only went out to Bimberi in November to talk to the staff to cover her backside; they were her words.

This is not about covering backsides. This is about the lives of real people—somebody who was beaten savagely less than a fortnight ago. That is the worst incidence of brutality that I am aware of there, but there have been many others: people hit with fire extinguishers, people having the contents of fire extinguishers poured upon them, people assaulted and dragged up and down by their hair, five inmates falling upon somebody who was left by themselves on the playground to supervise inmates—in contravention of the practices at Bimberi—again, somebody left by themselves. When will they learn? When will they learn that the standard operating procedures are there for a purpose? They are there to protect the people who live and work there.

Over the Christmas period there were a huge number of assaults out there, inmate on inmate. There was an all-out brawl in the spiritual centre one day, after a concert. These things show that since the motion was moved here in December there may have been some superficial progress somewhere but in other places it is getting worse.

Look at the ROGS data. The ROGS data is terrifying: 19 instances of self-harm in the reporting period at Bimberi. In the same period in New South Wales, with at least 10 times more inmates, there were twice as many incidents of self-harm. That says that we have got a problem. Those 19 instances of self-harm were perpetrated by 10 people, so most of the people who are self-harming are doing it more than once. That is a serious problem.

That, along with the well-documented failings of the Commissioner for Children and Young People, is why we have brought this matter back here today. And we have the preposterous and failed attempt by the Attorney-General to turn the tables on the Canberra Liberals—censuring me for having the audacity to stand up for these people; censuring me for attempting to get to the bottom of the performance of the Children and Young People Commissioner—with the ineffectual support from the Greens, who said, “Oh, well, he made a mistake.”

It may have been a mistake that cost somebody their life. It did not in this instance. But it does not matter whether the impact was little or large; the fact is the commissioner breached the guidelines. He breached his act, and this Attorney-General is not prepared to do anything about it. And the Greens here today are showing just where they stand. They are prepared to stand up for someone who by his own actions, clearly documented in his own words, breached his own legislation. They would rather stand up for him than for the people who are on the front line and are facing serious physical harm on a regular basis.

It all boils down to this: “We can’t criticise this person because he is a statutory office holder.” Just because he is a statutory office holder does not make him the best person

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