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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 04 Hansard (Tuesday, 28 March 2017) . . Page.. 1147 ..

Bimberi Youth Justice Centre—media restrictions

MRS DUNNE: My question is to the Minister for Disability, Children and Youth. Minister, the Canberra Times today reports that the Community Services Directorate has warned Bimberi employees not to share their concerns with the media because of the risk of “reputational damage” to the facility. Minister, have staff at Bimberi been gagged again?

MS STEPHEN-SMITH: I thank Mrs Dunne for her question. No, staff at Bimberi have not been gagged. Staff at Bimberi were, however, reminded of their obligations to raise any concerns that they have regarding the quality of care of children and young people through the appropriate channels and were reminded of the channels that they have available to them to raise these concerns.

The safety and wellbeing of young people and staff at Bimberi Youth Justice Centre are, of course, our main priority. In this particular email that Mrs Dunne is referring to, staff are also reminded that they can raise any issues externally with the public advocate or the Official Visitor. This responds to a concern that has been relayed to me that staff are concerned about raising issues with management. I would encourage them not to be concerned about that. That is the appropriate channel for initial concerns. If they have that concern, there are external places that they can go: the public advocate and the Official Visitor. In fact, the Official Visitor was in attendance at Bimberi last week. If allegations that expected standards of care are not met or allegations of inappropriate staff behaviour are received, either internally or through one of the oversight bodies, they are taken very seriously, and action is taken swiftly in accordance with the appropriate framework to address those issues.

The directorate also works actively with relevant unions to ensure that employee concerns are raised through unions as necessary and that unions feel free to raise their concerns with management.

MRS DUNNE: Minister, is the directorate more concerned about Bimberi’s institutional reputation than about the safety and wellbeing of detainees and staff?

MS STEPHEN-SMITH: I thank Mrs Dunne for her supplementary question. The directorate’s primary concern, and mine, is for the safety and wellbeing of young people at Bimberi and of the staff who work there. The young people detained in Bimberi have the right to privacy. What many people do not recognise is that even providing details of particular incidents in Bimberi will be identifying for some young people in some circumstances. Small amounts of information can very easily identify young people at Bimberi. It is critical as a community that we give our young people every opportunity to re-engage with community life after their time in Bimberi. This includes ensuring that they are never publicly identified. The relevant legislation is very clear on this point.

We recognise that employees at Bimberi have both a very challenging and a very rewarding role. Staff at Bimberi are committed employees who support some of the most vulnerable young people in our community, and are proud to do so. For the

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