Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 07 Hansard (Tuesday, 1 August 2017) . . Page.. 2248 ..
That the Assembly take note of the ministerial statement.
MS LE COUTEUR (Murrumbidgee) (12.14): I would like very much to thank the Minister for Disability, Children and Youth for her update today. It is very, very pleasing to hear that the youth justice blueprint is broadly achieving its aims in reducing the number of young people, including, importantly, the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people, in detention.
I would like to congratulate the minister on the formation of a task force to focus on improvements and sustainable outcomes for young people engaged with the youth justice system. This will ensure that it remains an important focus, and I believe the appointment of the ACT Children and Young People Commissioner will ensure that human rights are at the centre of deliberations.
It is clear that young people engaged with the youth justice system need help and assistance to get back on track with their lives. Too often there has been violence, abuse and neglect as a feature of the family background of these young people, and we must prioritise their education and rehabilitation goals. We must not demonise them and subscribe to unhelpful stereotypes about those who engage in criminal behaviour.
This is why I am particularly pleased today that the minister has released the charter of rights for young people in detention. This is something I called for back in April. So I am very pleased that this has been prioritised and I am very hopeful that it will be something which will help to ensure that young people are treated with respect and dignity during their time in detention and are guaranteed the right to education and are assisted with their rehabilitation.
The Australian Children’s Commissioners and Guardians released a model charter of rights for young people and children detained in youth justice facilities in July 2014 and called for jurisdictions to develop tailored charters of rights at that time. The model charter is based on international agreements to which Australia is a signatory and is designed to provide children and young people in custody with an easily understood guide to their rights and what they are entitled to while in custody. I am pleased that, even though it took some years to develop, the ACT charter aligns with this work, as it will ensure that a human rights focus is forefront.
We must promote the wellbeing, care and protection of children and young people in a way that recognises their right to grow in a safe and stable environment. Parents, children, the community and the whole ACT government each have a responsibility in achieving this, which is also a key objective of the ACT Children and Young People Act 2008. I am pleased that consultation occurred with the young people currently in detention, as this upholds the principle that young people should be consulted on issues that affect them. I believe that the charter of rights will be an important tool to ensure that workers and young people are aware of obligations under both the Human