Page 4563 - Week 11 - Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . . PDF . . . . Video

I note the minister also spoke about the Department of Education and Training, and this was a very important part of this inquiry. This was not just about the Community Services Directorate; this was also about the Education and Training Directorate. In fact many of the concerns that were raised, certainly with me and I am sure with Mrs Dunne, did come from those who were working within the Murrumbidgee education centre. I am pleased to see that there is far more support put in, but I think it is concerning that that support was not in there from the beginning.

Again, we know that there are many, many dedicated workers out at Bimberi, the teaching staff amongst them. It is good to see they have finally got some support. It is good to see that there are improved services being given to young people, regardless of whether they are in there for a week, two weeks or a year. The assistance of literacy programs being put in place is so important. We know that being illiterate does have a massive impact on your life outcomes.

I also note that there has been talk about the Department of Education and Training putting on a second suspension support team. Again, the first one was a pilot that has now been put in place. I am hoping that we now have coverage of all government schools across the ACT or we are moving towards coverage of those schools that need this service and the students that need this service.

From my understanding, many of the young people in Bimberi said that the first time they had been, if you like, rejected or excluded from an institution was when they were suspended from school. For many of them that was from primary school and it should have been at that point that there was a greater focus on what was happening for that child and what was happening for that child’s family.

We need to do more work in this area. I am concerned by the numbers of children in government schools in the ACT—I do not have the non-government numbers; they may be very similar—who are being suspended in primary school. I think we need to put a focus on this. We need to change what is going on there. If that means putting in more programs, putting in more resources, that is what we need to do. It is an early indication that something is not quite going right, and sometimes it can be that those are the first steps on the pathway towards interaction with the youth justice system.

We really want to start at early intervention and prevention. We need to look at how we can keep them out of that system but, if they do enter the system, that we have in place the best programs, the best responses, so we can ensure that we live up to that goal of having that framework around human rights; that we make sure we provide the best opportunity for a child or young person to rehabilitate. Not only is it good for them for better life outcomes but certainly it also benefits the wider community.

I was a little concerned that there was mention in the minister’s tabling statement that the commission provided a detailed and somewhat aspirational report with their 224 recommendations and that no youth justice system in Australia would fully meet the very high standards of service provision championed by the commission. I do not think we should be stepping back and saying that it was all just too much, that they are asking too much and all the rest. We need to take on board what the commissioner

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . . PDF . . . . Video