Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 07 Hansard (Thursday, 3 August 2017) . . Page.. 2438 ..
As Ms Hargreaves has done publicly, both official visitors assured me that they have not seen any evidence of the generalised allegations that have been made about Bimberi’s operations, that is, issues such as drug use or young people being encouraged to fight one another. Ms Hargreaves has made the point to the media that she gets to know the young people in Bimberi pretty well. My understanding is that both she and Ms Wetnall are highly respected, and that the young people have no hesitation in raising concerns with them. I hope the charter of rights I released earlier this week will further strengthen the capacity of young people to understand their rights and raise any concerns they may have.
I thank the Leader of the Opposition for his very specific suggestions about what more can be done to strengthen oversight of Bimberi. I note that some of the things he suggested are already in place, but I will consider all of his suggestions.
In closing, I will make three points I have made many times before but which I feel bear repeating in this context. First, my number one priority is the safety and wellbeing of the young people and staff at Bimberi. Second, I and the government take all allegations of wrongdoing at Bimberi very seriously. That is why I have consistently encouraged any person with information to come forward to the directorate, to the Human Rights Commission or to ACT Policing so that allegations can be fully investigated. Third, I will continue to be as transparent as I possibly can be about the operation of Bimberi so that Canberrans can judge for themselves both my performance and that of our youth justice system.
MRS KIKKERT (Ginninderra) (10.29): Thank you for this opportunity to speak. I wish to stand today to speak in support of the motion of censure brought by Mr Coe. I sincerely wish we did not have to address this issue in this way, and I personally find no pleasure in doing so but it is clear that we are at a breaking point where something has to change. The Leader of the Opposition has raised a number of concerns regarding the safety and wellbeing of the young people who are detained at Bimberi Youth Justice Centre as well as the safety and wellbeing of the staff who seek to meet the needs of these young people. I do not need to repeat what Mr Coe has said but I do wish to make it very clear that I share all his concerns.
Since the end of last year a number of people who work or have worked at Bimberi have personally raised their concerns with me and, as you will remember, Madam Speaker, I have attempted to bring a number of these concerns into this chamber so that those of us who have been elected to represent the people of this territory would not be ignorant. As a consequence, when the Canberra Times published on 4 July its series of articles raising the concerns that they too had heard, I was already familiar with most of them, though this does not, I should point out, make it any easier to read about them. In addressing the Canberra Times reports, the government official responsible for Bimberi assured us that these incidents were all historical, many of them dredged up from the far distant past when things were worse, and anyway they had all been appropriately dealt with—a line repeated by the minister when she finally made herself available to the media later the same day.