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The Bimberi report.

By johnboy - 29 July 2011 9

Bimberi report cover

Following on from Joy Burch’s efforts to put a brave face on the report into the running of Bimberi we can now point you at the actual report.

It features the most opaque, nay useless, executive summary it has ever been my misfortune to encounter, but by page 16, and still in the “summary” we come to brass tacks:

The Commission identified several problems in relation to the use of force and restraints, in particular that they had been used for minor breaches, staff shortages had meant that they were not always used as a last resort, and de-escalation had not been implemented as often as it should have been. The Commission is concerned that restraints were sometimes used routinely for escorts within Bimberi as a behaviour management technique and without adequate risk assessment. Further, the Use of Force Policy seems not to be used consistently in practice, and records were not properly kept in accordance with legal requirements.

The Commission has similar concerns in relation to the use of segregation, in that records were not being kept appropriately, and the review process is not sufficiently transparent and rigorous. It appears that young people on segregation were often denied access to full educational programs, contrary to policies. Bimberi has developed the practice of locking young people in their cabins for ‘time out’ if they are noncompliant, without authority under policies and procedures. Also there was inadequate recording of reasons for locking down units for ‘operational reasons’, for example staff shortages.

Although the number of strips searches had declined from their routine use at Quamby, there are worrying signs that they are again increasing. The Commission suggests that alternative search techniques be used, in line with best practice in other jurisdictions. There were some problems in relation to unit searches conducted in the absence of the young person, and the often automatic subsequent requirement of a strip search.

The Commission found that the environment of the Admissions Unit is unnecessarily stark, and is concerned that other young people are co-located here for behaviour management, meaning that remand and sentenced young people were inappropriately mixing contrary to human rights requirements. Although Bimberi has conjoining cabins for young people, as recommended in the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody, in practice these were not used.

In relation to communication and other rights, the Commission is concerned that young people do not often participate in decision-making, and are not provided with the Resident’s Handbook which explains their rights and obligations. Some young people had their phone calls limited due to disciplinary matters, and the free phone call system to oversight bodies was not operating properly. Sometimes legal visits were postponed at short notice due to staff shortages, and there is no general visiting legal service for young people at Bimberi. Also young people complained that their clothing was not warm enough, and footwear was of low quality. The Commission recommends that CSD develop criteria and procedures for transferring young people over the age of 18 years to the AMC, in order to ensure transparency and consistency in decisionmaking, and give young people an opportunity to know their rights and put forward their views, notify advocates and be given an opportunity to appeal.

The Greens’ Caroline Le Couteur has this to say about it:

“We have built a new building and it looks good from the outside but unfortunately the report confirms that not enough is being done within Bimberi, and there simply aren’t the rehabilitation programmes that young offenders need.

“The ACT Greens believe that targeted intervention works, particularly individualised plans and programs that engage those who are at most risk of re-offending. The reports’ findings support this view.

“It is critical that government takes seriously the role of rehabilitation. It is costly, but it’s a small cost to pay compared with the costs of a life-time in and out of the criminal justice system.

What’s Your opinion?


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9 Responses to
The Bimberi report.
Pork Hunt 1:18 pm 31 Jul 11

“14.24 The Community Services Directorate consult the Commission and other stakeholders prior to any introduction of sniffer dogs.”

Does the man or woman in the street get consulted too?

What next, reserved parking so the unlicensed turds have somewhere to park their stolen car while doing their time?

Gerry-Built 3:28 pm 30 Jul 11

I’m entirely certain, despite the shortcomings identified in this report, that a majority of the inmates get far more care, respect, and quite possibly love from the (majority of the) staff of the Bimberi Centre than any other adult has been prepared to show them in their lives to date. Considering how truly awful some of the kids I’ve encountered (who were “enrolled in programs” at the Centre or its predecessor) I’m all for the provision of the services currently offered (though the pool is really pushing it) should it be shown to give the offenders every opportunity to rehabilitate and escape their current trajectories… It has got to be cheaper than the alternative; both in financial and social costs…

A stitch in time…

It is certainly our social duty/responsibility to give these kids an opportunity to escape what life currently has in store for them… despite the obvious cost involved… (I’m not for/advocating the namby-pamby kid gloves approach, either, though)

breda 1:55 pm 30 Jul 11

“They forgot to mention the swimming pool. ”
——————————————–
Good point. I imagine that there are many government schools with rather more than 31 (max) potential users that would be delighted to receive a taxpayer funded pool. I hate to think how many thousands of dollars per inmate swim the construction and maintenance must be costing.

Watson 9:52 am 30 Jul 11

A Noisy Noise Annoys An Oyster said :

breda said :

Poor quality footwear? Stark surroundings in the Admissions Unit? Oh, cry me a river. Making it sound like a Dickensian institution for unfortunates who stole a loaf of bread because they were starving on the street just doesn’t cut it.

They forgot to mention the swimming pool. This was put in despite the law-abiding residents of Gungahlin not having access to a pool, and despite the Kariong juvenile detention centre on the central coast of NSW filling in their pool in 1995 after a public outcry over the motel-type conditions.

Isn’t it about time we threw out the stupid Human Rights Act and stopped the namby pamby, kid gloves approach to dealing with these little thugs?

The opinion of someone advocating to throw out the Human Rights Act is always likely to win me over. Survival of the fittest is the only way to go.

A Noisy Noise Annoys 5:38 am 30 Jul 11

breda said :

Poor quality footwear? Stark surroundings in the Admissions Unit? Oh, cry me a river. Making it sound like a Dickensian institution for unfortunates who stole a loaf of bread because they were starving on the street just doesn’t cut it.

They forgot to mention the swimming pool. This was put in despite the law-abiding residents of Gungahlin not having access to a pool, and despite the Kariong juvenile detention centre on the central coast of NSW filling in their pool in 1995 after a public outcry over the motel-type conditions.

Isn’t it about time we threw out the stupid Human Rights Act and stopped the namby pamby, kid gloves approach to dealing with these little thugs?

breda 11:13 pm 29 Jul 11

Poor quality footwear? Stark surroundings in the Admissions Unit? Oh, cry me a river. Making it sound like a Dickensian institution for unfortunates who stole a loaf of bread because they were starving on the street just doesn’t cut it.

JB, when you mentioned that the Exec. summary was more than 16 pages long, it said it all. I have written same for three volume reports that were shorter than that, and would have been rightly reprimanded (and edited) otherwise. I dread to think what the main report is like, and am not going to waste time I will never get back reading it. An institution that has never had more than 31 inmates could surely be reviewed in less than 80 pages, perhaps with a couple of annexes.

Why is almost everything the ACT Government produces third rate?

johnboy 8:19 pm 29 Jul 11

Thumper said :

Is Joy ‘La la la la’ Burch the worst or most incompetent minister we have ever seen in the ACT?

I think she’s doing OK. This is hardly of her making.

Thumper 7:16 pm 29 Jul 11

Is Joy ‘La la la la’ Burch the worst or most incompetent minister we have ever seen in the ACT?

aussielyn 5:49 pm 29 Jul 11

Juveniles in detention at Bimberi on 30 June 2011 were 9.
Maximum juvenile population was 31 in 2008-11
Total F/T Staff in 2010 was 56. Operational staff of 41 was doing 12 hour shifts. High staff turnover at Bimberi was almost 20% in 2010-11. This indicates a need for another fulltime human rights trainer. This trainer can quote from this 547 page report to detainees and staff and give a 300 page report on compliance every 6 months.
Nice to know that the food was compliant to human rights except when the cook was on leave!

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