Staffing levels and regular Use of Force training have been flagged as issues to address following an incident at Bimberi Youth Justice Centre on Monday evening, 26 August.
Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) Regional Secretary, Madeline Northam, said some members “remain in shock and some are still shaken” following the incident, which saw seven staff members attend hospital.
“The Community Services Directorate must work with members to identify what went wrong and what can be changed to make sure a major incident like this does not occur again,” Ms Northam said.
“The ACT Government must commit to urgently reviewing staffing levels at Bimberi to ensure they are providing the safest possible environment for workers and young people. The CPSU acknowledges that the ACT Government has increased staffing recently, however, there is still significant staff turnover.”
Ms Northam said members would also like to see regular Use of Force training “so that they can respond in the most appropriate way when events like these unfold”.
“If this training was provided more regularly, our members would be up to date with the most appropriate use of force techniques and would feel more confident when they are in a position where they may have to use force,” Ms Northam said.
“Use of Force with a young person is a specialised area and it is imperative that members feel confident they are well trained in the area.”
The issue of training was also mentioned by the Canberra Liberals with Shadow Minister for Families, Youth and Community Services, Elizabeth Kikkert, expressing “worry about the safety and welfare of both staff and detainees at the Bimberi Youth Centre”.
“Concerns about training raised this morning (Tuesday 27 August) by the CPSU 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.
ACT Policing and WorkSafe ACT are both conducting investigations into the incident while ACT Minister for Children, Youth and Families, Rachel Stephen-Smith, has also commissioned a separate investigation to be conducted by Peter Muir, whose areas of specialty include youth justice. Mr Muir was due to arrive in Canberra on Tuesday afternoon, 27 August.
“This is a significant incident and of course we are taking it very seriously,” Ms Stephen-Smith said.
Shesaid the independent review will also look into the young person who escaped lawful custody at The Canberra Hospital, where he was receiving medical treatment, on Monday 26 August but “that is not to indicate that these matters are linked”.