Page 3751 - Week 09 - Wednesday, 24 August 2011

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MR SPEAKER: Yes, Ms Bresnan.

MS BRESNAN: Minister, Life Without Barriers was reported as using contractors to source and place children with parents. Is this practice occurring in the ACT?

MS BURCH: Life Without Barriers’ practice in New South Wales is not applicable in the ACT.

Bimberi Youth Justice Centre—review

MR SMYTH: Mr Speaker, my question is to the Minister for Community Services. Minister, on 29 March this year, you told the Assembly:

All the messaging coming from me, my office, the executive and the executive structures through the department is for open, frank and fearless participation in this review.

You also said:

I urge all staff to be involved in this review …

In a briefing on the Human Rights Commission’s report on youth justice in the ACT, my colleague Mrs Dunne was told that, while Bimberi staff informed the commission about bullying and coercion, there was no discussion of this in the final report because the perpetrators had since left the centre. Minister, were you aware that the ACT Human Rights Commission had received complaints of bullying and coercion from former Bimberi staff? If so, what action did you take?

MS BURCH: I note with interest that Mrs Dunne’s media release is effectively accusing the statutory body of the Human Rights Commission of covering up allegations towards them. I go to the Bimberi report and refer you to page 137, where there is clearly a chapter on harassment and bullying.

MR SPEAKER: Mr Smyth, a supplementary?

MR SMYTH: Thank you, Mr Speaker. Minister, how can Bimberi workers have any confidence in the inquiry or the report if critical factors that contribute to the culture of Bimberi are ignored?

MS BURCH: They have not been ignored. Every complaint and allegation that has been put forward has been reviewed and investigated, either through the department, the HRC or other independent oversight. It is absolutely clear that those opposite continue to politicise youth justice in Bimberi, and continue to politicise and undermine the office of the Human Rights Commission.

MR HARGREAVES: A supplementary, Mr Speaker.

MR SPEAKER: Yes, Mr Hargreaves.

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