28 August 2019

Union says Bimberi staff need more training on how to use force

| Lachlan Roberts
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The ACT Government has launched an investigation into Monday night’s major incident. Photo: Region Media.

The Community and Public Services Union (CPSU) said Bimberi Youth Justice Centre staff need more training on how and when to use force, after a riot injured seven staff at the centre on Monday night (26 August).

Just before 7 pm, police were called to help secure the centre after a riot broke out. Four staff members were taken to the Canberra Hospital and three to Calvary Hospital, all in stable conditions.

Madeline Northam from the CPSU said the “shocked” Bimberi staff had been asking for more training in how and when to use appropriate force so that when incidences arose they would be confident to shut it down.

Ms Northam believes there is no regular training on the use of force, and said one member had only been trained twice in the past seven years.

“The union would like to see regular training in the use of force take place,” Ms Northam told Region Media. “Our members are always prepared for incidents like this, but in saying that, our members have been telling us that they would like more regular access to the use of force training.”

Ms Northam said the union would like to see the Community Service Directorate consult with staff on how often they need training, with an expectation that training should take place at least a couple of times per year.

“The more regularly they have the training, the more confident they are in using the techniques and they get the most up to date information on what the best practice is,” she said. “It is best for them and best for the young people at Bimberi as well.”

ACT Youth and Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith said Peter Muir’s investigation into the incident will look in to seeing if training of staff numbers played a factor in the incident.

“We need to ensure that staff are trained to use force appropriately as required in a way that minimises harm both to themselves and to young people,” Ms Stephen-Smith said. “While the investigations are underway, it is too early to draw conclusions.”

Canberra Liberals spokesperson Elizabeth Kikkert said she remains concerned for staff safety.

“Concerns about training raised by the union reflect concerns that I have raised over recent years regarding the provision of adequate training for staff who work in this important facility,” Ms Kikkert said. “The Canberra Liberals worry about the safety and welfare of both staff and detainees at the Bimberi Youth Justice Centre.

“The ACT Government has serious questions to answer.”

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