Page 2444 - Week 07 - Thursday, 3 August 2017

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Bimberi is undoubtedly a difficult environment to work in, and I take the opportunity this morning to commend the staff for their work day in and day out in helping young people get their lives back on track. I also thank them for sharing their ideas and working with the minister and the directorate on a reform program that will lead to better care, improved safety and better outcomes for residents of Bimberi.

In May the minister announced that a task force would be established to take stock of progress under the blueprint for youth justice in the territory 2012-22. The task force, co-chaired by Jodie Griffiths-Cook, the Children and Young People Commissioner, will establish the directions we need to take in the second five years of the strategy. Members would be aware that the 2017-18 ACT budget that we will debate in this place later this month includes a further investment of $2.1 million over four years to ensure the continued safety and wellbeing of the young people at Bimberi. A further investment of $326,000 will be used provide a new digital radio network at the centre.

I take this opportunity to seek the support of those opposite for those budget initiatives. However, if past practice is anything to go by, the opposition will vote against the budget and against those specific initiatives when it comes to a final vote in this place later this month. But they have an opportunity in the context of the budget debate to support those initiatives, and I look forward to that support given what has been said this morning. This investment was secured by the minister to support staff at Bimberi to continue to provide a safe, secure and supportive environment for young people.

The minister has not only welcomed the Human Rights Commission review of practices at Bimberi, which has been initiated to follow up on some of the allegations that have been made, but is committed to fully considering the recommendations that may come from that review. In May the minister made a clear commitment to extend to Bimberi the oversight powers of the dedicated inspectorate of custodial services being established by the ACT government.

Just this week Minister Stephen-Smith delivered the rights for young people in Bimberi which lays out the rights of young people at Bimberi and their responsibilities to uphold and protect the rights of others. The charter will serve to increase awareness of young people’s rights and responsibilities, both among young people themselves and by staff and service providers. The charter was developed in consultation with the Children and Young People Commissioner, the Human Rights Commission, young people in Bimberi and service providers at Bimberi.

The ACT government is committed to an accountable, transparent and effective youth justice system. As Minister Stephen-Smith has made quite clear both in her response to this unwarranted censure motion this morning and in all of her comments on this matter that she and the government are committed to being as transparent as possible about Bimberi’s operation and performance. As those opposite are aware, the minister has undertaken to develop a standard report on Bimberi’s performance so that a range of indicators can be objectively scrutinised each year. The minister has made a commitment to table the first of these reports at the earliest opportunity to include data from the 2016-17 fiscal year.

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