Page 970 - Week 03 - Thursday, 22 March 2018

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Madam Assistant Speaker, the Bimberi Youth Justice Centre is a critical part of the youth justice system in the ACT and will undoubtedly form a critical part of the blueprint taskforce’s considerations. I acknowledge the significant interest in Bimberi’s operation and performance, and since coming into this role have made a firm commitment to be as transparent as possible in relation the youth justice centre. As part of this commitment, I will be tabling today the first headline indicators report for Bimberi Youth Justice Centre. This is the first of these reports and provides baseline 2016-17 data for measures in three areas: demographics; safety and security; and programs, education and community engagement.

In keeping with my commitment to keeping the Assembly informed about an issue that has been of significant interest over the past year, the report includes data from the first half of 2017-18. It is important to note that the report includes unpublished data which has not been cleansed by an external agency, so it may not be comparable with data from youth justice centres in other jurisdictions, and the numbers may not match up entirely with subsequent national data releases. Caution should therefore be used when interpreting data in this baseline report, particularly in seeking to make comparisons with other data sources. The report also relies on operational data that is extracted through a manual count. A new client information system currently in development will allow for the improved extraction of data in the future.

I anticipate that the regular publication of the indicators report will support analysis of trends over time to continue to drive improved practice in Bimberi and better outcomes for children, young people and their families. As I have said before, I am committed to being as transparent as possible about Bimberi’s operation and performance, and this report will enhance the existing mechanisms providing robust oversight of Bimberi.

Currently these oversight mechanisms include the ACT Human Rights Commission and two official visitors, one of whom is a designated Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Official Visitor. Within the next two years, Bimberi will also be overseen by the newly established Inspector of Correctional Services through a phased implementation approach which will take account of the unique needs of children and young people.

Keeping children and young people safe while in Bimberi is crucial, so one of the headline indicators included in the report is the number of operational lockdowns. An operational lockdown at Bimberi is when a decision has been made to secure all, or some, young people in their rooms for a period of time. This action is taken to ensure the safety of young people and staff at Bimberi and is based on a number of factors, including the number of young people in Bimberi at the time; cohorts of young people and their risk classification co-offenders, gender, age, victims and social dynamics; and the number of staff on site to accommodate the number of young people.

The decision to undertake an operational lockdown is not taken lightly and can be authorised only by a member of the senior management team. During a lockdown, while in their rooms, young people have access to television, reading and educational material. Lockdowns occur for the minimum amount of time possible to ensure the safe operation of Bimberi. The report shows that 34 operational lockdowns occurred

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