Page 2441 - Week 07 - Thursday, 3 August 2017
Young people currently do not feel safe inside Bimberi, and words on a poster or on paper are meaningless if not supported through action. We know that reality as grownups, and it is even truer in a child’s eye. Young people need responsible adults who not only talk about rights but take decisive action to guarantee those rights. And yet in interview after interview, when asked what specific actions she would take right now to guarantee the safety of those in Bimberi, the minister has repeatedly referred to ongoing processes of improvement already in place.
At some point, as Amnesty International Australia’s spokeswoman Roxanne Moore indicated to the Canberra Times on 8 July, the minister must take responsibility for issues in her directorate.
MS LE COUTEUR (Murrumbidgee) (10.39): The Greens do not support this motion attempting to censure the Minister for Disability, Children and Youth. The Greens were made aware of allegations of violence and breaches of duty of care of detainees as well as the opposition and the government and I can certainly say I am, and I am sure that everyone here is, concerned about the allegations about Bimberi. When we first became aware of these allegations we were concerned and alarmed. We sought and received a briefing from the CS Directorate. We were provided with sufficient information at this briefing to be reassured that appropriate actions and investigations were taking place.
We subsequently had meetings with the Human Rights Commission and the minister over these matters and again we were reassured that appropriate investigations and responses were taking place. Critical incident reviews were underway, staff had been stood down where appropriate, ACT Policing and the Human Rights Commission were both investigating. We were reassured that the official visitors had been contacted, were aware of allegations and had asked if detainees had made similar complaints. We were also reassured that the Public Advocate must be made aware of any strip searches and the reasons they have occurred.
Much of the information that has been provided by a range of whistleblowers has, to the best of our knowledge—and I have to stress it is only to the best of our knowledge—not at this stage been substantiated. The Greens at this stage are satisfied that the minister has taken appropriate action and not participated in a cover-up. Most of these investigations take significant amounts of time and there is nothing that the minister can do to make them take less time.
The minister has responded to these matters and she has responded to them on many occasions. I, and the rest of us, have listened to many questions without notice. I have also seen her extensively reported in the media and we have had some more private conversations on this issue. Particularly this week she has responded by releasing the charter of rights for young people in detention which, as the opposition pointed out, is something the Greens have been calling for for some time.
I sincerely hope that this will be part of a circuit breaker in terms of changing what is happening in Bimberi. That was the idea for the Greens pushing for this, which has