Page 2245 - Week 07 - Tuesday, 1 August 2017

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the second lowest rate of over-representation for young people under youth justice supervision in the country. Since 2011-12 we have seen the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people in detention fall by 47 per cent and in recent months there have been times when no Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander young person was in Bimberi. But we know there is more we can do to reduce the disproportionate number of Indigenous young people who are in trouble with the law. That is why we are engaging Gugan Gulwan, the Aboriginal Legal Service and the elected body in the task force process.

The third specific issue I have asked the task force to consider is the experience of young people with disability in the youth justice system. As members would be aware, the government is committed to the development of a disability justice strategy, and the task force will inform that work as well as considering any measures that could be implemented independently. The task force will provide me with a mid-term report against the blueprint’s objectives and advise me on the priorities for the final five years of the strategy.

While I am updating the Assembly on the blueprint and the work of the task force, I would also like to touch on the operation of Bimberi Youth Justice Centre. There is always a limit to what can be said publicly about specific incidents. However, I am committed to being as transparent as possible about Bimberi’s operation and performance. To this end, I have asked the Community Services Directorate to develop a standard report on Bimberi’s performance so that a range of indicators can be objectively scrutinised each year. I will table the first of these reports at the earliest opportunity, to include data from 2016-17.

In the meantime I would like to share with you some of the information that is currently available. For example, members will be pleased to hear that the use of strip searches has been reduced dramatically since young people were detained in Quamby, down by 90 per cent and continuing to fall. Assaults by young people on other young people fell by 80 per cent between 2009-10 and 2015-16. In 2015-16 there were eight assaults by young people on other young people. Since the commencement of operations at Bimberi use of force incidents have decreased by 60 per cent. There were 36 use of force incidents in 2015-16. This reflects improved training in critical incident management but also demonstrates how challenging the work remains. Along with official visitor reports, and compliments by visiting experts from the Northern Territory royal commission and our Western Australian counterparts, this data confirms that Bimberi continues to move in the right direction.

As I have said before, young people in Bimberi are some of the most troubled and challenging of any young people in the ACT. The offences that have resulted in their detention are serious and have often included significant violence. Bimberi staff understand this challenge and that is why they continually work to improve practices and culture within the centre. The professional practice of Bimberi staff creates a safe place for young people to learn new skills, accept responsibility for their behaviour and rebuild relationships in the community. Continuing our commitment to young people in the ACT, the task force will ensure we maintain a strong focus on achieving the best outcomes for young people and therefore the best outcomes for our community.

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