Page 934 - Week 03 - Tuesday, 29 March 2011

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which the government has been working hard to address. In relation to the other matters, I refer Ms Le Couteur to my previous answer.

Bimberi Youth Justice Centre—youth workers

MR SMYTH: My question is to the Minister for Children and Young People. Minister, my question refers to the Canberra Times story on 28 March 2011 about your department urging staff to consult with management to work out a strategy prior to responding to any approach to them by the human rights commissioner in relation to its inquiry. Minister, in that article, a spokesperson from your office told the Canberra Times that there is no need for staff to work out a strategy prior to responding to any such approach. Further, that article quotes your spokesperson as saying:

Rather, the intention was to offer staff support in making submissions if needed.

Minister, if the intention of the statement was to offer support and not corrupt the review process, why did they not just say so? Why would staff use the word “strategy’’ and not “support”, and why would they need support before making such a submission?

MS BURCH: As I have just said, the officer who signed off on those minutes accepts that the language used by the person, the public servant, who crafted those minutes certainly did not reflect—

Mr Smyth: Crafted?

MS BURCH: Crafted—drafted. The person who drafted those minutes did not reflect the intent of the meeting. There is grave concern for me that those opposite do not ask for briefings on Bimberi and do not want to visit Bimberi but many times as we approach question time they come up with these quite extreme allegations. I think the editorial in today’s Canberra Times was a nice balance to the level of spin that they are trying to put on this.

In the ATSIS unit we have dedicated staff working towards supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. They are not directly linked to the recruitment and activities and programs at Bimberi. They are broad-reaching Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander support services to support families at risk, to support families in the care and protection system and to support the young men at Narrabundah House.

It is clear the officer has made his explanation. I have faith in that explanation. As I have said—and will repeat—to staff and here and anywhere, I ask all people for frank and fearless participation in this review.

Mr Hanson: Well, why did you go, “La-la-la,” and put your hands over your head then?

MS BURCH: That is just nonsense. Should I find any evidence to the contrary, there will be consequences.

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