Page 4482 - Week 12 - Tuesday, 30 October 2018

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Official Visitor (Children and Young People)—annual report 2017-18

Paper and statement by minister

MS STEPHEN-SMITH (Kurrajong—Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs, Minister for Disability, Minister for Children, Youth and Families, Minister for Employment and Workplace Safety, Minister for Government Services and Procurement, Minister for Urban Renewal) (3.21): For the information of members, I present the following paper:

Official Visitor Act, pursuant to subsection 17(4)—Annual Report 2017-18—Official Visitor (Children and Young People)

I ask leave to make a statement in relation to the paper.

Leave granted.

MS STEPHEN-SMITH: I am pleased to table the children and young people official visitors annual report for 2017-18. The Official Visitor Act 2012, which became operational in September 2013, requires me as operational minister for the Children and Young People Act to provide the Legislative Assembly with an annual report collated from the information received from the official visitors throughout the year.

Official visitors provide an independent adult who will listen to the concerns of young people in detention or residential care and follow up those concerns with the Community Services Directorate or with me directly. The children and young people official visitors play an important role in the rigorous oversight mechanisms that exist in the ACT to monitor detention places and residential care places. They work alongside other oversight bodies such as the Public Advocate, the Children and Young People Commissioner and the Human Services Registrar. In future the Inspector of Correctional Services will commence their oversight of Bimberi Youth Justice Centre.

The official visitors’ key focus is to engage directly with young people and ensure their voices are heard. The official visitors, Ms Narelle Hargreaves and Ms Tracey Whetnall, do this by visiting children and young people in Bimberi Youth Justice Centre and in residential places of care and by being available via telephone if a child or young person in one of these places wishes to speak with an independent adult.

In their reports the official visitors have consistently expressed their satisfaction with the support provided to young people in the Bimberi Youth Justice Centre. In this reporting period the official visitor visited on 52 occasions, essentially one every week in the reporting period. They also note that young people continue to achieve pleasing results and outcomes through the Murrumbidgee Education and Training Centre.

In relation to residential care, the official visitors made 149 visits to 16 residential places of care over 2017-18. The official visitors were pleased with the care provided to children and young people in residential care and highlighted the important role

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