Page 943 - Week 03 - Tuesday, 29 March 2011

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MS LE COUTEUR: Minister, what information does ACTPLA have on the ecological qualities of the area and the viability of the site for such development?

MR BARR: I am advised that it is actually a matter for DECCEW and TAMS.

Bimberi Youth Justice Centre—assaults

MR HANSON: My question is to the Minister for Children and Young People. Minister, in an open letter to the Chief Minister printed in the Canberra Times today a former staff member at the Bimberi centre asks why you and the Labor government ignored issues of serious concern occurring at Bimberi, creating a culture of cover-up and bullying. Minister, have you read the letter and if so will you address for the Assembly your response to accusations that a student was called a “dirty junkie whore” nearly every day that she spent in Bimberi? Minister, will you address the accusation that a student arrived at a class with their face beaten and asked a teacher to take a photo of their injuries as evidence? And minister, will you address the accusation that a student feared being raped in a classroom once youth workers were withdrawn?

MS BURCH: I thank those opposite for their ongoing interest in Bimberi. Let me be very clear that this was the first I had heard about words such as “dirty junkie whore”. I think that was what you said. That is the first I have heard of it. This is the first I have heard of young people being concerned about being assaulted within a classroom.

As far as assaults go, assaults are unfortunate episodes that happen at times at Bimberi, and any assault is thoroughly investigated and referred to the police. My understanding, if indeed this is the same incident—I will have to put that there—is that that matter was referred to the Australian Federal Police for consideration and investigation.

MR HANSON: A supplementary question, Mr Speaker?

MR SPEAKER: Yes, Mr Hanson.

MR HANSON: Minister, what action will you now be taking with regard to the letter that was written to the Canberra Times?

MS BURCH: I will look to do two things: I will look to make sure that all these allegations are put through the proper process, and we have a review with the Commissioner for Children and Young People. We have also got the human rights commissioner undertaking a review. These allegations are such that they need to be referred to and considered under that process.

Additionally, the department has certainly read and heard my concerns about this and will also be reviewing circumstances and seeing if they can validate, investigate and come to the bottom of these allegations.

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