The ACT Government has launched an investigation into a riot at the Bimberi Youth Justice Centre on Monday night (26 August) which saw seven staff taken to hospital with injuries and police called to secure the centre.
Around 6:51 pm, Bimberi Youth Justice Centre staff called ACT Policing to help them address an incident that involved several young people aged between 14 and 20-years-old and staff. Police arrived a short time later and the centre was secured by 7:40 pm.
Four staff were taken to the Canberra Hospital and three to Calvary Hospital, all in stable conditions and were all released by midnight.
ACT Youth and Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith would not elaborate on the injuries that staff sustained or how many detainees were involved in the incident. She said the incident was classified as a “major incident” which means that all staff were involved in the incident.
Ms Stephen-Smith said she has commissioned an investigation to be conducted by former Chief Executive of Juvenile Justice in NSW, Peter Muir, who arrived in Canberra on Tuesday afternoon (27 August).
“This is a significant incident and we are taking it very seriously,” Ms Stephen-Smith said. “It is very important that we do consider this as matter from a youth justice perspective in addition to the perspectives of ACT Policing and WorkSafe ACT so that we can learn any lessons that can be learnt from this incidence.”
Mr Muir will also investigate how a 17-year-old Bimberi Youth Detention Centre detainee escaped from Canberra Hospital and went on the run for three hours before he was found in Acton less than 24 hours earlier.
Ms Stephen-Smith was adamant the two incidents are separate but said it was important to investigate both matters.
“We were already intending to look into that incident of the young person absconding and Mr Muir will now undertake an investigation into both of these matters,” she said. “This is not to indicate that these matters are linked.”
Ms Stephen-Smith said the centre will be in rolling lockdowns for the day and will only allow young people to leave their units in smaller numbers to help calm the centre.
“These kinds of incidents have an impact on all staff, who work with some of the most difficult and complex young people in our community,” she said. “An incident like this has a direct and indirect impact on all staff and it is important that we support those staff in any way they need.
“This is a very difficult time and our first priority is the safety and security of staff and young people at Bimberi and making sure they get the support they need.”
ACT Policing and WorkSafe ACT are investigating the incident. ACT Work Safety Commissioner Greg Jones said four inspectors from WorkSafe ACT attended Bimberi Youth Justice Centre last night.
“Any workplace injury is a concern to WorkSafe ACT and it will conduct its own investigation into the incident,” Mr Jones said.