Page 1857 - Week 06 - Thursday, 9 May 2013

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I am pleased that this month the ACT will be hosting the first-ever Australasian Youth Justice Conference. This conference is a partnership between the Australian Institute of Criminology and the Australasian Juvenile Justice Administrators. It will bring expert academics and practitioners from across the nation and internationally to Canberra to address the most significant issues confronting youth justice. I am pleased that our Attorney-General, Mr Corbell, has agreed to open the conference, and I look forward to seeing the results of its deliberations.

MADAM SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Ms Berry.

MS BERRY: Can the minister point to any recent indicators of success in youth justice in the ACT?

MS BURCH: There has been significant focus on improving outcomes at Bimberi Youth Justice Centre, and I can inform the Assembly that the review of all operational policies at the centre is now substantially complete, resulting in significant improvements in its day-to-day management. A significant focus on training of staff saw 36 youth workers graduate with either a certificate IV or a diploma level qualification in 2012, with 10 staff currently enrolled in certificate or diploma level study. The establishment of the Bendora transition unit is designed to provide individualised support for young people to better prepare them for returning to the community and is having an early impact, with fewer people returning to custody.

All of these changes have had a positive effect on the outcomes at Bimberi. Assaults at Bimberi fell by 65 per cent, from 2010-11 to 2011-12, and this trend continues. The use of force has fallen by 17 per cent over the same period, with this trend also continuing into this year. Young people at Bimberi are achieving recognised qualifications at a greater rate than ever before, and all young people at Bimberi are engaged in education or training.

We have also made significant gains in prevention and diversion, with programs like the after-hours bail service which has diverted 53 young people from custody since its inception in October, and we are on the right track. In 2010 there was an average of 20 young people in detention on any given day. This number is now under 18. I look forward to providing the Assembly with updates on the progress of the youth justice blueprint.

MADAM SPEAKER: Supplementary question, Mr Hanson.

MR HANSON: Minister, do you still deny covering your ears and saying, “La, la, la, la” when you first met with staff at Bimberi who raised concerns with you?

MS BURCH: I have been through that and I have denied it and I have continued to work with all my might to make sure that the young people in Canberra have a positive outcome through the—

Mr Hanson: We dragged you kicking and screaming to that review.

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