Ombudsman: youth justice facilities (8.2.2017)

Written on the 10 February 2017

8 February 2017


Statements on reports and papers

GEORGIE CROZIER (LIB - Southern Metropolitan)


I rise to speak on the Victorian Ombudsman's Report on youth justice facilities at the Grevillea unit of Barwon Prison, Malmsbury and Parkville, February 2017, which has been tabled in recent days. I am disappointed that other speakers are not able to contribute to the motion that I moved in relation to youth justice, but this report highlights many of the issues raised in the debate on the motion I moved earlier today.

I commend the Ombudsman for this report; it is a very thorough report. It undertakes to look at many of the issues that have occurred in youth justice. I am pleased that my colleagues have been able to well articulate those issues that have been very, very significant in the youth justice facilities and the youth justice system in Victoria for many, many months. The government's response is disappointing in relation to those matters which have been of concern for some time. This report was conducted by the Ombudsman. In the foreword she writes:

The riots at the Parkville youth justice centre in November 2016 and the government's subsequent establishment of a youth justice centre within Barwon Prison have prompted reviews, inquiries, and legal proceedings, by numerous agencies.

That is very true. There have been a number of reviews and reports looking at issues because of the significant concerns that have arisen throughout the youth justice system in the last two years. It is fair to say that issues have arisen and will continue to happen within youth justice facilities. No-one is denying that. But what we have seen over the past two years is a complete breakdown of youth justice.

We have a community that is very concerned about the significant issues that have arisen, because they have been very visible. They have been visible on our televisions on almost a weekly basis when the riots occurred; they have been visible in our newspapers as the stories got out. We saw a very human side in the devastating and horrific circumstances that occurred following the mass breakout at Malmsbury in late January.

This report was actually concluded just prior to that mass breakout. I am sure the Ombudsman will look at that, because the government continues to blame the former government for the lack of security that led to that mass escape. If they were concerned about the security at Malmsbury, then surely they would have acted on it. It is clear through the mass escape at Malmsbury that there were security concerns. It is my understanding that the issue of a very secure door was not addressed for many weeks. That simply is not good enough.

This report goes to the issues that have arisen in our youth justice facilities and the issues surrounding transfers to Barwon Prison. I note today more legal proceedings have been initiated against the government. Page 14 of the report talks about a previous decision on what the minister did. I will quote from the report, which says:

the court found that orders in council establishing Grevillea were invalid and of no effect, and that the minister's recommendation to make the orders in council failed to give proper consideration to the human rights of the young people to be detained at Grevillea.

That was the court's finding, yet the minister and the government went back to the Court of Appeal to argue it, and again they lost. They lost in the Supreme Court, they lost in the Court of Appeal and they are pursuing further legal action, as has been highlighted today. They have continually failed in so many respects. I will have more to say on this report. I do not think the issues at hand are being addressed by the government. I think they are panicking. They are making decisions on the run. and I think all and sundry is going to be disclosed.

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