Page 2775 - Week 07 - Wednesday, 6 June 2012

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Mr Corbell appears to have overcomplicated and misunderstood the new test this bill requires law enforcement officials to consider. What this bill asks is: can a police officer reasonably believe that this is the best course of action measured against these two principles? It is by no means a great stretch of current duties, considering that these very principles are already considered in dealing with children in many other and similar situations. The Children and Young People Act, the overarching legislation that ensures that children and young people are provided with a safe and nurturing environment by organisations and people who directly or indirectly provide for their wellbeing, care and protection, lists the very same youth justice principles.

By opposing this bill the attorney is in effect arguing that other laws, such as section 56A(2)(b), that allow police to arrest children who they believe have not complied with the bail condition are problematic and leave the government open to similar compensation claims because they give police a discretion and responsibility to make a decision.

This amendment bill would create greater clarity for police when considering a course of action that might include arresting a child for breaches of the Bail Act and strengthen the role of the after-hours bail support service as well as other related and relevant community services.

This is a shame, because, as I have said, this bill is only intended to create consistency across various acts, is only concerned with minor breaches of bail and does not prevent police taking a child into custody if the circumstances, along with the consideration of the principles, warrant such action.

At approximately 6 pm, in accordance with standing order 34, the debate was interrupted. The motion for the adjournment of the Assembly having been put and negatived, the debate was resumed.

MS HUNTER: At some stage the other parties in this place are going to have to find new ways of thinking and learn to listen to the overwhelming weight of evidence and research that exists in the youth justice field. The Greens are here today because we know what the evidence is. We know what needs to be done to make legislative change. We know what is important and why we need to move in this area.

The bill before the Assembly will, I believe, make a big difference to many lives, to so many young people who are caught up in our youth justice system. These are usually, as I said, for very minor breaches of bail. What happens is that they get taken out to Bimberi. They need to be admitted. Usually that will involve a strip search. It means putting them in a bed for the night, getting them back in a van and taking them into the courts in the morning, only for them to be bailed again. I think we can do a heck of a lot better in this town in the way that we deal with that particular situation. We know that it is no good for those young people and that in the longer term it is no good for everybody in the community, because the sort of criminal behaviour can escalate, and we do not want that to happen. We know that Bimberi and the youth justice system are set up to be focused on rehabilitation, to provide opportunities, to point young people in a different direction and provide the support for them to take steps in a different direction.

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