The ACT Shadow Minister for Families, Youth and Community Elizabeth Kikkert has said the ACT Government’s Charter of Rights is “failing to keep kids safe from violence”.

Ms Kikkert referenced the Bimberi Headline Indicators Report 2017-18, in which the number of assaults and operational lockdowns were shown to have increased significantly at the Bimberi Youth Justice Centre.

The report shows the number of assaults at Bimberi increased from six in 2016-17 to 19 in 2017-18, and the use of force from 84 to 178 in the same period. The number of operational lockdowns in 2016-17 was 34, while 2017-18 saw 179. The number of young people in custody on average each day rose from eight to 15.

Ms Kikkert said she would be “holding [Minister for Children, Youth and Families Rachel Stephen-Smith] and her government to account” in the Legislative Assembly’s annual report hearings.

The Charter of Rights for young people in Bimberi Youth Justice Centre outlines the rights and responsibilities of detainees, which include the right to be treated equally, to be safe from violence and abuse and to have their privacy respected.

In a statement, a spokesperson for Minister Stephen-Smith said the increase in assaults reported was in part due to the increase in custody nights for that same period.

“Whilst there was an increase in this period, there is a long-term trend of decrease in the number of assaults in Bimberi from 65 in 2010-11 to 19 in 2017-18,” the spokesperson said.

“Since the inception of the Blueprint for Youth Justice in the ACT 2012-22, the number of custody nights young people spent in detention has reduced by 53%, and by 71% for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people. This means that all but the most challenging and complex young people have been diverted from custody.”

The spokesperson said the Charter of Rights has been embedded into practice since it was launched last August, providing a guide for young people at Bimberi, and is provided to every person on induction, and displayed prominently around the centre.

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