8 November 2019

Independent review finds Bimberi attack on staff unprovoked and unforeseeable

| Ian Bushnell
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Bimberi staff have been praised for their response to the unprovoked attack. Photo: File.

Five Bimberi detainees engaged in an unprovoked attack on staff in an attempt to steal keys and escape the youth detention centre, according to the independent review of the August incident that prompted a lockdown and required police to restore order.

Consultant Peter Muir’s report released yesterday (8 November) says one staff member was injured by the office computer used to attack him and a sharp, improvised weapon was used to wound at least two other staff members. Staff were taken to hospital for treatment.

Mr Muir made 27 recommendations covering improved staff training, procedures and workplace safety, all of which the Government has accepted, but he could not find any staff or systems failures. He praised staff for their high degree of professionalism, courage and teamwork.

“In the midst of being attacked by young people, there is evidence of staff demonstrating a high degree of care and restraint in their dealings with these young people,” Mr Muir said.

Mr Muir found nothing that would have alerted staff that an attack was imminent.

“The most credible hypothesis on this incident is that it was initiated and led by a known young person as a means for him to avoid extradition to NSW. I found no evidence that this was known to any staff member prior to the incident.”

Mr Muir found no evidence that staff absences played any part in the lead-up to or handling of the incident but has recommended that the Community Services Directorate ensures Bimberi has enough staff to operate the centre effectively.

Minister for Youth and Families Rachel Stephen-Smith said the Government would take immediate action such as new capital works at the centre and employing the equivalent of three additional full-time staff members, including a Principal Practitioner to strengthen trauma-informed, therapeutic treatment and advice available to young people.

It would appoint an Intelligence Officer who will be responsible for the timely assessment and review of classifications and for the determination of behaviour breaches.

A Work Health and Safety Adviser will manage the Work Health and Safety system, including overseeing the Work Health and Safety and operational risk registers.

A new Training Officer will be responsible for managing training for Bimberi staff, including organising compulsory refresher training.

A consultant will also be engaged to review and update emergency operating procedures and to provide negotiation training.

“I commend the staff who were involved in this incident for their professionalism, courage and compassion, and thank all Bimberi staff for the work they do every day to support complex young people with a focus on rehabilitation,” Ms Rachel Stephen-Smith said.

Some recommendations have not been made public as they may compromise the security of the Centre.

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To help reduce the public perception that violent offenders get off lightly when attacking such staff members, it would be nice to know what they have been charged with over this incident.

And what their sentence is when (presumably) they are convicted,

It would seem that some of them should be facing some serious assault charges, or perhaps even attempted murder.

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