Whistleblowers Protection Act 2001 Investigation into conditions at the Melbourne Youth Justice Precinct

 

Whistleblowers Protection Act 2001

Investigation into conditions at the

Melbourne Youth Justice Precinct

October 2010

Ordered to be printed

Victorian government printer

Session 2006-10

P.P. No. 388

This page has been intentionally left blank.

 

www.ombudsman.vic.gov.au

LETTER TO THE LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL AND THE LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY

To

The Honourable the President of the Legislative Council and

The Honourable the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly

Pursuant to section 103 of the Whistleblowers Protection Act 2001, I present to Parliament the report of an investigation into conditions at the Melbourne Youth Justice Precinct.

G E Brouwer

OMBUDSMAN

4 October 2010

letter to the legislative council and the legislative assembly

 

3

 

 

 

 

 

www.ombudsman.vic.gov.au

CONTENTS

Page

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

6

Background – the ParkvilleYouth Justice Precinct

6

Public interest disclosure

6

Unacceptable conditions

7

Health and safety concerns

7

Breach of human rights for children in custody

8

Working with children checks

9

Failure to respond adequately to improper conduct

10

Response to alleged assaults

11

Contraband

11

Alleged theft by staff

12

Inadequate supervision of night staff

13

Inadequate care for detainees with mental health issues

13

Recommendations

14

1. INTRODUCTION

16

Background – the ParkvilleYouth Justice Precinct

16

Public interest disclosure

17

2.THE INVESTIGATION

18

Investigation methodology

18

3. CONDITIONS ATTHE PRECINCT

19

Human rights issues for children in custody

19

Design of the ParkvilleYouth Justice Precinct

20

Addressing specific issues

21

Overcrowding

21

Safety issues

24

Hanging points

24

Blocked smoke detector vents in bedrooms

24

Electrical problems

26

Risks arising from facility construction and design

27

Unsafe grounds

28

Casestudy1

30

Food and kitchen inspections

30

Maintenance and standards

32

Graffiti

34

Dirty conditions

35

Conclusions

37

Recommendations

40

4investigation into conditions at the melbourne youth justice precinct

 

www.ombudsman.vic.gov.au

4. ALLEGATIONS OF IMPROPER CONDUCT

42

Inciting physical assault

42

Casestudy2

43

Allegations of assault against detainees by staff

45

Casestudy3

46

Allegations of excessive force during restraints of detainees

47

Casestudy4

48

Measures to prevent excessive force during restraints

48

Casestudy5

49

Contraband

50

Staff bringing contraband into the Precinct

52

Casestudy6

52

Failuretomeetdutyofcareandsafetyprovisionsduringnightshift

53

Financial impropriety

55

Falsification of records

55

Casestudy7

56

Theft from stores

56

Uniform allowance claim

57

Policybasisfordisciplinaryandstaffconductrelatedinvestigations

58

Conclusions

59

Recommendations

61

5. QUALITY OF CARE

64

Education and programs for detainees

64

Capacity to care for detainees with mental health issues

66

Casestudy8

67

Conclusions

69

Recommendations

70

6. FAILURETO COMPLYWITH OPERATIONAL AND LEGISLATIVE

72

PROVISIONS

 

Communications book

72

Inability to account for contraband

74

Emergency aid pouches (safety pouches)

78

Working with children checks

79

Conclusions

80

Recommendations

81

7. SUMMARY OF RECOMMENDATIONS

83

APPENDIX A – Management structure for each unit

86

APPENDIX B – Graffiti

87

APPENDIX C– Staphylococcus and hygiene

91

contents 5

 

My officers undertook site visits and identified unacceptable conditions at both the Justice Centre and the neighbouring Residential Centre.

6

www.ombudsman.vic.gov.au

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Background – the Parkville Youth Justice Precinct

1.The Department of Human Services (the department) is responsible for the administration of Youth Justice services in Victoria. The

Children, Youth and Families Act 2005 gives the department statutory responsibility for the care, custody and supervision of children who have been sentenced to detention or remanded in custody pending the finalisation of legal proceedings.

2.Victoria has three custodial facilities for children, being the Melbourne Youth Justice Centre (Justice Centre), the Melbourne Youth Residential Centre (Residential Centre) and the Malmsbury Youth Justice Centre (Malmsbury). The Justice Centre and the Residential Centre are located side by side at Parkville and are collectively referred to as the Parkville Youth Justice Precinct (the Precinct). The Precinct holds sentenced and remanded detainees aged 10 to approximately 21 years.

Public interest disclosure

3.Early in 2010 I received allegations from a whistleblower regarding serious misconduct of staff at the Justice Centre. The allegation related to staff:

inciting assaults between detainees

assaulting detainees

restraining detainees with unnecessary force

supplying contraband to detainees, including tobacco, marijuana and lighters

stealing goods and consumables.

4.The disclosure also included allegations relating to general mismanagement of the Justice Centre, overcrowding, poor adherence to operational procedures and an organisational culture that fostered unethical conduct.

5.I determined these allegations to be a public interest disclosure pursuant to the Whistleblowers Protection Act 2001. Because of the serious nature of the allegations I decided that my office should investigate the matter and I wrote to the Secretary of the department to inform her of this on 12 February 2010.

6.As part of my investigation, my officers undertook site visits and identified unacceptable conditions at both the Justice Centre and the neighbouring Residential Centre. I considered the poor conditions to reflect non-compliance with human rights principles and present many safety issues for both staff and detainees. As a result, on 22

March 2010 I wrote to the Secretary of the department requesting that she take prompt action to address the disgraceful conditions.

investigation into conditions at the melbourne youth justice precinct

 

www.ombudsman.vic.gov.au

7.Due to the conditions at both Centres I decided to broaden my investigation to include the entire Precinct.

Unacceptable conditions

Health and safety concerns

8.During site visits, my officers observed many design features within the Precinct that did not appear suitable for a custodial environment for juveniles, including:

hanging points1 throughout the Precinct (refer to page 24)

close proximity of the Eastern Hill unit to a boundary fence, resulting in contraband more easily being thrown over the boundary wall

a low roof-line and exposed piping that allows detainees to climb onto the roof

land-fill which results in pieces of glass rising to the surface

(see for example: photographs 3 and 4; and case study 1 on pages 29 and 30)

an open front to the Precinct, allowing persons to easily enter Precinct grounds

ill-placed staircases that create blind spots and pose a safety risk to detainees and staff, particularly in the event of an incident.

9.Safety and health concerns identified included:

mouldy and dirty conditions (see for example photograph 7 on page 33 and photographs 9 to 11 on pages 35 and 36)

a high prevalence of communicable infections such as scabies, Staphylococcus Aureus and school sores (see for example emails in Appendix C on page 91)

blocked smoke detector vents (see for example photographs 1 and 2 on page 25)

electrical hazards (see for example paragraphs 100 to 106 on

pages 26 and 27)

unhygienic conditions in food preparation areas (see for example photographs 5 and 6 on page 32)

excessive graffiti (see for example photographs in Appendix B on pages 87 to 90)

unprofessional maintenance work.

1 A‘hanging point’ refers to any fixed structure which can be used by a detainee to facilitate a suicide or attempted suicide by hanging.

The design and location of the Precinct is

inappropriate for a custodial facility which houses

vulnerable children.

executive summary 7

 

These conditions are clearly in breach of the United Nations Rules for the Protection of Juveniles Deprived of their Liberty.

The conditions in the

Precinct reflect little regard for human rights principles.

Overcrowding has resulted in mattresses being placed in isolation rooms with young people having to go to the toilet in buckets.

8

www.ombudsman.vic.gov.au

10.In my view, the design and location of the Precinct is inappropriate for a custodial facility which houses vulnerable children. The dirty, unhygienic and ill-maintained conditions reflect poorly on the management and staff at the Precinct. These conditions are clearly in breach of:

the United Nations Rules for the Protection of Juveniles Deprived of their Liberty

the Australasian Juvenile Justice Administration Standards for Juvenile Custodial Facilities

recommendations arising from the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody

Government health regulations, in particular the Food Act 1984.

11.While the cleanliness, graffiti and security issues discussed in this report should be addressed promptly, I consider that the structural problems I have identified are beyond simply maintenance and repair.

As such, the only practical way to address the conditions at the Precinct in the long-term is to develop a new facility at another site.

Breach of human rights for children in custody

12.I also consider that the conditions in the Precinct reflect little regard for human rights principles. The Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 (the Charter of Human Rights) places

particular importance on the circumstances of children in the criminal justice process and the protection of children in general.

13.Non-compliance with the Charter of Human Rights is worsened by the problem of overcrowding, which I have identified as a

considerable issue in the Precinct, in particular the Justice Centre. My investigation identified the following concerns:

Overcrowding has resulted in mattresses being placed in isolation rooms with young people having to go to the toilet in buckets.

The number of beds in the Precinct is not sufficient for the number of remanded or sentenced detainees that the Precinct is required to accommodate. As a result,

undesirable mixing of detainees of widely varying ages and different legal status occurs.

Remanded detainees are being placed in units with sentenced offenders which has presented a significant problem (see for example paragraph 80 on page 23).

14.Mixing of remanded and sentenced detainees of varying ages occurs despite section 22(2) and 23(1) of the Charter of Human Rights and section 482(1)(c) of the Children, Youth and Families Act (the Act). Both the Charter of Human Rights and the Act discuss the separation of persons accused of an offence from persons convicted of an offence.

investigation into conditions at the melbourne youth justice precinct

 

www.ombudsman.vic.gov.au

15.It is clear from the unacceptable conditions that the department has failed to meet its statutory obligations under the Act and human rights principles. In my view, this brings into question the capacity of the department to operate youth justice services. As a minimum, the Precinct requires inspection and oversight by an external body such as that provided by the Office of Correctional Services Review and the Official Visitors program for Victorian prisoners. The department has responded:

The department acknowledges that the general conditions of the Precinct should be maintained at a high standard that is appropriate to the detention and care of children and young people with complex needs. The department will implement additional external oversight mechanisms to ensure that the condition of the Precinct improves and is maintained.

Working with children checks

16.On 3 April 2006, Working with Children Checks (WWCC) were introduced as a means to prevent persons who pose a risk to the safety of children from engaging in work which involves children.2

The Working with Children Act 2005 makes WWCCs mandatory for persons in Victoria undertaking child-related work.

17.As detainees at the Precinct are generally under the age of 18, it is necessary for staff to hold a current WWCC.

18.An analysis by my office completed in July 2010 revealed:

65 out of 143 former staff (45 per cent) employed after 30 June

2006 did not have a WWCC on their personnel file

132 out of 367 current staff (36 per cent) do not have a WWCC on their personnel file

in total, 39 per cent of former and current staff who were/are legally required to have a WWCC to work at the Precinct do not have a WWCC on their personnel file.

19.I concluded that the department has failed to uphold the purposes of the Working with Children Act by not:

adequately and consistently recording the status of WWCCs for all staff

ensuring that all staff have an approved WWCC

developing a centralised recording system that can be monitored and audited

documenting a policy which provided for consistent recording and monitoring of WWCCs.

2Department of Justice, Working with Children Check, website available at <http://www.justice.vic.gov.au/workingwithchildren>.

The department has failed to meet its statutory obligations.

39 per cent of former and current staff do not have a WWCC on their personnel file.

The department has failed to uphold the purposes of

the Working with Children Act.

executive summary 9

 

The department’s failure to address improper conduct contravenes the department’s statutory obligations and human rights provisions.

This shortcoming is compounded by the department’s failure to take decisive action when these issues have come to light.

The evidence obtained by my office indicates that independent and regular oversight of the Precinct is necessary.

10

www.ombudsman.vic.gov.au

Failure to respond adequately to improper conduct

20.During the course of my investigation, current and former staff raised concerns about the conduct of officers at the Precinct, in particular the Justice Centre. Specifically, it was alleged that staff:

incited physical fights between detainees

assaulted detainees

used excessive force during restraints on detainees

introduced contraband into the Precinct

falsified records

stole goods and consumables

slept during night shift.

21.Management was aware of many of the above allegations concerning the conduct of staff, but at times failed to take appropriate action.

In my view, the department’s failure to address improper conduct, particularly conduct which impacts on the health and safety of detainees, contravenes the department’s statutory obligations and human rights provisions. This shortcoming is compounded, in several instances, by the department’s failure to take decisive action when these issues have come to light.

22.The evidence obtained by my office indicates that independent and regular oversight of the Precinct is necessary. Unlike the adult prison system, the Precinct is not subject to inspections by Official Visitors nor is there a central oversight body such as the Office of Correctional

Services Review for the Victorian prison system.

23.The lack of external scrutiny of the Precinct is compounded by responsibility for the conduct of discipline investigations being allocated to the department’s Human Resources Manager. In my view this allocation of responsibility does not reflect the complexities associated with performing high quality investigations. The conduct of investigations, whether conducted by departmental staff or external contractors, should be overseen by a senior officer with specialist investigative skills and experience.

24.In response the department stated that it has :

… instituted a new system whereby serious or complex disciplinary matters will be overseen by senior executives.

25.In addition to improving the youth justice system’s internal investigations capacity, it is my view that the youth justice system should be subject to, at least, the same degree of external oversight as the adult correctional system, through the existing Official Visitors system and the Office of Correctional Services Review. The department has since said that it is exploring these options.

investigation into conditions at the melbourne youth justice precinct

 

www.ombudsman.vic.gov.au

Response to alleged assaults

26.Several staff said that their colleagues had encouraged fights between detainees. Inciting violence was described as a means of punishing detainees who ‘deserved’ it or as a way to encourage detainees to resolve their issues (see for example case study 2 on page 43).

27.The whistleblower alleged that staff allowed detainees to gather at the Justice Centre’s oval or in the courtyard to engage in physical violence to resolve their disputes. While managers interviewed during my investigation were unsure as to whether these incidents were merely based on rumour, there was no evidence to suggest that the department has previously sought to thoroughly investigate the matter.

28.In addition to the allegations of inciting assaults between detainees, witnesses reported to my officers during interviews that staff have assaulted detainees and at times have attempted to conceal an assault during a restraint of a detainee (see for example case study 3 on page 46, case study 4 on page 48 and case study 5 on page 49).

29.I have examined ten investigation reports or outcomes relating to the department’s response to allegations of assault by staff between the period 2008 to 2010. I note that while investigations are conducted they are often impeded by a lack of policy which directs how investigations are to be undertaken. In addition, the investigation outcome is at times limited by management’s confusion regarding the role of the department when Victoria Police is investigating.

Contraband

30.Contraband seized during searches of the Precinct by staff and sighted by my officers included:

tobacco

green vegetable matter which appeared to be marijuana

white powder

pills

money

glass

lighters

hand-made sharp objects

syringes

metal bars.

Several staff said that their colleagues had encouraged fights between detainees who ‘deserved’ it or as a way to encourage detainees to resolve their issues.

There was no evidence to suggest that the department has previously sought to thoroughly investigate the matter.

Staff have assaulted detainees and

at times have attempted to conceal an assault during

a restraint of a detainee.

executive summary 11

 

There is opportunity for contraband to be introduced into the Precinct because staff bring large bags into work that are not inspected.

A number of allegations which current and former staff raised related to the misuse of public funds.

Staff advised that stealing of a range of items, in

particular goods and consumables, occurs in every unit across the Precinct.

The Precinct does not have adequate closed-circuit television to monitor storage areas and determine which staff are responsible for thefts.

www.ombudsman.vic.gov.au

31.The whistleblower stated that staff brought contraband into the Precinct for detainees. During interviews, current and former staff confirmed that tobacco, cigarettes and lighters are brought into the

Precinct by staff and provided to detainees (refer to case study 6 on page 52 in relation to allegations of a staff member introducing contraband into the Precinct). It should be noted that unlike adult

custodial centres where smoking tobacco is allowed, at the Precinct it is prohibited and considered contraband due to the age of detainees.

32.Senior staff informed my officers that there is opportunity for contraband to be introduced into the Precinct because staff bring large bags into work that are not inspected. Senior managers advised my investigators that there is no policy or legislative basis which allows for officers’ belongings to be checked. The department has subsequently advised that it has advice confirming the ability to search employees’ bags before and after a shift and will develop a relevant policy.

33.In addition to concerns regarding staff introducing contraband, my investigation identified poor practice in relation to the seizure,

recording and storage of contraband. The Precinct is not authorised to retain illegal items under the Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substances Act 1981. It is therefore necessary for the Precinct to surrender illegal substances to Victoria Police. However, my investigators identified what appeared to be illicit drugs, stored in the Precinct since 2006.

34.Overall, the standard of storage and recording of contraband was poor. Details on evidence bags were not completed, with information about times, dates and the location of contraband omitted.

Alleged theft by staff

35.A number of allegations which current and former staff raised throughout the course of my investigation related to the misuse of public funds. In particular, allegations were made that staff had:

claimed money for shifts they do not attend

processed uniform allowance claims in excess of the actual amount that was spent (refer to pages 57 to 58 which detail a substantiated allegation of a manager making fraudulent clothing allowances claims)

stolen goods from storage.

36.Staff advised my officers that stealing of a range of items, in particular goods and consumables, occurs in every unit across the Precinct. However, the Precinct does not have adequate closed- circuit television (CCTV) coverage to monitor storage areas and determine which staff are responsible for thefts. It is also apparent that senior staff at the Precinct do not consider the record system for the purchasing, storage and usage of goods and consumables to be sufficient or to accurately reflect the movement of items. However no action has been taken in the past to address this.

12 investigation into conditions at the melbourne youth justice precinct

 

www.ombudsman.vic.gov.au

Inadequate supervision of night staff

37.A number of witnesses, including senior staff, alleged that some night staff sleep during their shifts or unlock the door to detainees’ bedrooms, allowing detainees into common areas at night (see for example pages 53 to 55). My investigation established that:

management did not supervise night staff by conducting regular or unannounced visits

the department’s failure to implement CCTV across the Precinct has limited its capacity to monitor staff conduct on night shift.

38.In response to my report the department has expressed that it ‘does not tolerate inappropriate staff conduct’ and that:

Internal departmental discussions are underway to ensure alignment of practices within the centres with departmental policy, and to identify improved options for recruitment and building relevant capabilities.

It should be noted that future misconduct investigations will be informed by access to CCTV footage, which will assist in their efficient resolution.

Inadequate care for detainees with mental health issues

39.Research has found that the health status of young offenders is typically poor, with youth detainees presenting with psychological disorders, substance addiction and engaging in self-harming behaviours.3 Thus, the adequacy of responses to detainees’ mental health is a particularly important matter in a custodial environment.

40.When an adult is sentenced to imprisonment and presents with significant psychiatric problems, a judge or magistrate is given the option of detaining the person at Thomas Embling Hospital. This facility is operated by mental health professionals for offenders who are mentally ill.

41.There is no comparable facility for young offenders who are mentally ill and sentenced to detainment. While the Adolescent Forensic Health Service (AFHS) is situated on-site at the Precinct, it does not oversee the wellbeing of young people on a 24 hour a day basis.

3Allerton M & Champion U. NSW young people in custody health survey. Sydney, NSW. Department of Juvenile Justice, 2003.

The adequacy of responses to detainees’

mental health is a particularly important matter in a custodial environment.

executive summary 13

 

The Precinct is struggling to meet adequately the needs of children who are seriously mentally ill.

Failure to ensure that adequate support is available for mentally

ill detainees is incompatible with the department’s Charter of Human Rights responsibility.

14

www.ombudsman.vic.gov.au

42.My investigation has identified that the Precinct is struggling to meet adequately the needs of children who are seriously mentally ill, including detainees who are suicidal or display self-harming

behaviour (refer to case study 8 on page 67 in relation to an attempted suicide by a detainee). This is particularly concerning given the general unsafe conditions within the Precinct that I have referred

to previously. In my view, failure to ensure that adequate support is available for mentally ill detainees is also incompatible with the department’s Charter of Human Rights responsibility to provide each child in its custody with ‘such protection as is in his or her best interests’.

43.The department acknowledges that the needs of detainees are complex. In response to my report the department said:

Those young people who are detained in custody are amongst the state’s most vulnerable young people. This cohort is characterised by significant disadvantage, including family dysfunction and breakdown, low educational attainment, long term, intergenerational unemployment, low/impaired cognitive development, mental health problems, homelessness and significant substance misuse. These needs must be balanced against trends toward increasingly violent offences and the requirement to comply with court orders.

The department takes its obligations regarding community safety as well as obligations to ensure the safety and wellbeing of those young people in custody, including support for their rehabilitation very seriously.

Recommendations

44.I have made 27 recommendations in total, including that the department:

Review the suitability of the Precinct in light of my investigation with a view to replacing it with a new facility.

Review policies and practices relating to conditions to ensure that they comply with human rights principles.

Install CCTV in all common areas of units throughout the Precinct, program areas and recreational areas as a priority.

Review the current model and policy process used to investigate allegations or suspicions of staff misconduct.

Report to my office on the outcome of the department’s identification of staff who do not have a Working with Children Check on their personnel file. Include reference to any staff who are working without an approved or current Working with Children Check and advise of the department’s remedial action.

investigation into conditions at the melbourne youth justice precinct

 

www.ombudsman.vic.gov.au

45.The department accepted all of my recommendations. In response to my concerns about the department’s capacity to operate youth justice services, the Secretary of the department stated:

… the department intends to increase the external scrutiny on the operations of the Parkville Youth Justice Precinct.

To this end it has commenced discussions with the Office of Correctional Services Review, and is also considering the use of official independent visitors. I recognise the need to hold staff accountable and apply a degree of external oversight.

46.I therefore propose to review conditions at the Precinct in relation to the implementation of external oversight arrangements. I propose to report to Parliament on this issue in 12 months time.

47.In overall response to my report the Secretary said:

The draft report and recommendations provide a constructive external analysis of the operations of the centre and of the Parkville Youth Justice Precinct more broadly. They acknowledge many of the challenges associated with operating a system of care for children and young people under custodial orders, including increasing demand pressures in the face of limited capacity, and the increasing complexity of young offenders with multiple needs.

The draft report and recommendations identify a range of issues which can be improved, in particular related to: physical conditions of infrastructure and facilities; safety and security; policies and practices; transparency, accountability and compliance; services and programs; management of staffing issues; and human rights.

I welcome the report as a further opportunity to improve conditions in youth justice custodial centres.

In overall response to my report the Secretary said the draft report and recommendations provide a constructive external analysis of the operations of the centre and of the Parkville Youth Justice Precinct more broadly.

executive summary 15

 

www.ombudsman.vic.gov.au

1. INTRODUCTION

Background – the Parkville Youth Justice Precinct

48.The Department of Human Services (the department) is responsible for the administration of Youth Justice services in Victoria. The Children, Youth and Families Act 2005 (the Act) gives the department statutory responsibility for the care, custody and supervision of children who have been sentenced to detention or remanded in custody pending the finalisation of legal proceedings.

49.The Act provides that a Court can sentence a child aged 10 to 14 who has been found guilty of an offence to a Youth Residential Centre Order. Similarly, a child aged 15 to 20 can be sentenced under a Youth Justice Centre Order. The Act provides for remanded or sentenced children aged 10 to 21 to be detained in a Youth Residential Centre or a Youth Justice Centre.

50.Victoria has three custodial facilities for children: the Melbourne Youth Justice Centre (Justice Centre); the Melbourne Youth Residential Centre (Residential Centre); and the Malmsbury Youth Justice Centre (Malmsbury). The Justice Centre and the Residential Centre are located side by side at Parkville and are collectively referred to as the Parkville Youth Justice Precinct (the Precinct).

51.Youth Justice services have operated in various guises at the Parkville Precinct since the 1890s, previously being the Royal Park Depot, Winlaton, Baltara and Turana. The current configuration consisting of the Justice and Residential Centres was substantially developed during the 1990s.

52.The Justice Centre is a custodial facility for males aged 15 to approximately 18 years of age who have been sentenced to a Youth Justice Centre Order or remanded in custody. After the age of 18, most detainees will be placed at Malmsbury up until the age of 21, depending on the offences they have committed and their suitability for placement with older detainees. The Justice Centre comprises six units in which detainees are held: Remand North, Remand South, Admissions/Oakview, Westgate, Southbank and Eastern Hill.4

53.The Residential Centre accommodates males aged 10 to 14 years of age and females aged up to 21 years who have been sentenced or are on remand. The Residential Centre comprises two units, one for young boys (Barnett), and the other for young women (Cullity).

54.Female and young male remandees are held in the Residential Centre. Remanded males aged 15 to 18 years are held in the Remand North and Remand South units which are physically separate from the Justice Centre.

4 Refer to Appendix A for a diagram representing the management structure for each unit within the Precinct.

16

 

investigation into conditions at the melbourne youth justice precinct

 

 

 

 

 

www.ombudsman.vic.gov.au

Public interest disclosure

55.Early in 2010 I received allegations from a whistleblower about the conduct of staff at the Melbourne Youth Justice Centre (Justice Centre). The allegations related to staff:

inciting assaults between detainees

assaulting detainees

restraining detainees with unnecessary force

supplying contraband to detainees, including tobacco, marijuana and lighters

stealing goods and consumables.

56.Allegations were also made about the general mismanagement of the Justice Centre, overcrowding, poor adherence to operational procedures and an organisational culture that fostered unethical conduct.

57.I determined these allegations to be a public interest disclosure pursuant to the Whistleblowers Protection Act. Because of the serious nature of the allegations I decided that my office should investigate the matter.

introduction 17

 

www.ombudsman.vic.gov.au

2. THE INVESTIGATION

58.On 12 February 2010 I informed the Secretary of the department that I was conducting an investigation into a public interest disclosure concerning the Justice Centre.

59.During the investigation, my officers undertook site visits and identified unacceptable conditions at both the Justice Centre and the neighbouring Residential Centre. I considered that the poor conditions at the Centres raised many safety issues for both staff and detainees.

60.Due to the conditions at both Centres I decided to broaden my investigation to include the entire Parkville Youth Justice Precinct (the Precinct) within which both Centres are located. I therefore wrote to the Secretary of the department on 22 March 2010 to inform her that I had broadened my investigation to include the entire Precinct. I drew the Secretary’s attention to the appalling lack of standards and the disgraceful conditions at the Precinct and I requested that she urgently review conditions to protect the safety of detainees and staff. At that time I provided the Secretary with photographs of some of the more serious examples of the conditions. I have included a number of photographs in this report to illustrate the matters I have referred to.

61.During the course of my investigation, I identified several other issues other than those specified in the public interest disclosure. However, these issues are, in my view, inherently connected to the disclosure because they reflect on the general management of the Precinct and the lack of independent oversight.

Investigation methodology

62.My investigation involved my officers:

interviewing current and former staff from the Precinct

examining incident reports, investigation reports, staff human resource files and various departmental documents and policies

examining complaints previously raised with my office

analysing staff emails

conducting a number of site visits to the Precinct

examining human rights documents and principles

making enquiries with local councils

making enquiries with the Department of Health

inspecting the Malmsbury Youth Justice Centre.

In the course of this investigation, we conducted 20 formal interviews and numerous informal discussions with witnesses. Seventeen witnesses were interviewed voluntarily, and three were summonsed. No individual officers have been named in this report. Before finalising my report, the department was provided with a copy of the report, in order that it could respond. The department’s responses to the issues are reflected in my report.

18

 

investigation into conditions at the melbourne youth justice precinct

 

 

 

 

 

www.ombudsman.vic.gov.au

3. CONDITIONS AT THE PRECINCT

63.During site visits my investigators identified appalling physical conditions in the Precinct, in particular the Justice Centre. These conditions reflected little regard for human rights principles and occupational health and safety standards.

Human rights issues for children in custody

64.The Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 (the Charter of Human Rights) places particular importance on the circumstances of children in the criminal justice process.

65.Section 22 of the Charter of Human Rights relates to humane treatment when deprived of liberty as follows:

(2)An accused person who is detained or a person detained without charge must be segregated from persons who have been convicted of offences, except where reasonably necessary.

(3)An accused person who is detained or a person detained without charge must be treated in a way that is appropriate for a person who has not been convicted.

66.Section 23 of the Charter of Human Rights specifically relates to children in the criminal process. Of particular importance are subsections 23(1) and 23(3) which state:

(1)An accused child who is detained or a child detained without charge must be segregated from all detained adults.

(3) A child who has been convicted of an offence must be treated in a way that is appropriate for his or her age.

67.The Charter of Human Rights Guidelines for Legislation and Policy Officers in Victoria5 state that in relation to section 23, consideration must be given to the design of detention facilities and the conditions under which children are detained in a public or private institution, before and after conviction.

68.Also, section 32 of the United Nations Rules for the Protection of Juveniles Deprived of their Liberty states:

The design of detention facilities for juveniles and the physical environment should be in keeping with the rehabilitative aim of residential treatment, with due regard to the need of the juvenile for privacy, sensory stimuli, opportunities for association with peers and participation in sports, physical exercise and leisure-time activities.

The design and structure of juvenile detention facilities should be such as to minimize the risk of fire and to ensure safe evacuation from the premises. There should be an effective alarm system in case of fire, as well as formal and drilled procedures to ensure the safety of the juveniles. Detention facilities should not be located in areas where there are known health or other hazards or risks.

5 Department of Justice, Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities: Guidelines for Legislation and Policy Officers in Victoria, July 2008.

conditions at the precinct

 

19

 

 

 

 

 

www.ombudsman.vic.gov.au

69.Similarly, section 10.1 of the department’s Operation Manual states:

The physical environment and maintenance programs in juvenile Justice Centres must provide safe and secure living arrangements for clients. The infrastructure should also assist staff to provide a positive atmosphere that promotes rehabilitation.

Centres will ensure that their accommodation and program areas are of a ‘reasonably clean condition’, hygienic and comply with reasonable community standards and expectations.

70.Similar sentiments are reflected in the Australasian Juvenile Justice Administrators Standards for Juvenile Custodial Facilities which is referred to in the department’s Operation Manual. The Standards state that a custodial facility for juveniles should provide ‘… a physical environment that is safe and secure and has due regard to the rehabilitative expectations of custodial care …’.6

71.Despite these human rights provisions, the department’s Operations Manual does not draw on or mention the Charter of Human Rights. The Operations Manual currently being used in the Precinct is considerably outdated and does not refer to up-to-date legislative provisions, including the Charter of Human Rights or the Children, Youth and Families Act 2005.

Design of the Parkville Youth Justice Precinct

72.The Residential Centre opened in 1999 with redevelopments completed in 2002 while the Justice Centre commenced operation in 1993 with redevelopments in 2005. Despite the relatively recent construction there are many design features within the Precinct that did not appear suitable for a custodial environment for juveniles.

73.I will deal separately with specific safety issues that arise from the design of the Precinct, however some general issues warrant comment, as follows:

Glass bricks, walls and staircases are located in places that create blind spots and hamper supervision of detainees.

Ventilation is poor. Evaporative cooling has been installed in some units, however this does not work effectively since windows cannot be opened due to safety and security reasons. In some units, there is no cooling at all.

There is little natural light. The units are generally poorly lit because of a limited number of windows. The natural light at the Precinct compares poorly with the units at Malmsbury for example.

Fire sprinklers can be accessed by detainees. In the detainees’ bedrooms, sprinklers are located next to built-in book-shelves. My officers were informed that detainees can climb on the book-shelves, set off sprinklers and flood their bedroom. This results in detainees having to be relocated to another bedroom in an already overcrowded facility. It is also a health concern for detainees due to wet carpet and rising damp. Evidence of water damage was observed in many of the units.

The showers in detainee rooms are not enclosed. This presents privacy issues particularly in double bedrooms which are shared by two detainees.

6 Australasian Juvenile Justice Administrators, Standards for Juvenile Custodial Facilities, March 1999.

20

 

investigation into conditions at the melbourne youth justice precinct

 

 

 

 

 

www.ombudsman.vic.gov.au

A BMX bike track (located in the Residential Centre) that is limited in its use because it leads into a wall.

A recreational room (in the Barnett unit) which has walls that move when pushed or leaned on.

Glass walls inside the Precinct are bordered by metal bars which provides detainees with a climbing point.

Addressing specific issues

Overcrowding

74.The number of beds in the Precinct is not sufficient for the number of remanded or sentenced detainees that the Precinct is required to accommodate. As a result, undesirable mixing of detainees of widely varying ages and different legal status occurs.

75.Currently there is capacity to accommodate 112 detainees within the Precinct. However the capacity of the Precinct should not be considered only in terms of the overall number of beds. Various segregation arrangements are required to separate male and female detainees; detainees of differing ages; and those on remand from those who have been found guilty and sentenced to detention.

76.Section 482 (1c-d) of the Children, Youth and Families Act requires the department to:

(c) separate persons who are on remand from those who are serving a period of detention by accommodating them separately in some part set aside for the purpose unless –

(i)the Secretary considers it appropriate not to separate them, having regard to the best interests, rights and entitlements of the persons on remand; and

(ii)the persons on remand consent; and

(d) separate persons held on remand who are under the age of 15 years from those held on remand who are of or above the age of 15 years unless exceptional circumstances exist.

conditions at the precinct

 

21

 

 

 

 

 

www.ombudsman.vic.gov.au

77.Table 1 sets out the capacity of the various facilities that make up the Precinct:

Table 1: Accommodation by facility and unit

Unit

Capacity

Function

 

 

 

ParkvilleYouth Residential Centre

 

 

 

 

 

Barnett

15

Accommodates sentenced and

 

 

remanded young male detainees

 

 

aged 10 to 14 years.

 

 

 

Cullity

15

Accommodates sentenced and

 

 

remanded female detainees aged

 

 

10 to 21 years.

 

 

 

MelbourneYouth Justice Centre

 

 

 

 

 

Admissions/ Oakview

11

Previously a unit for sentenced

 

 

detainees that is in transition

 

 

as an entry point for remanded

 

 

detainees aged 15 to 18 years.

 

 

 

Remand North

13

Accommodates remanded

 

 

detainees aged 15 to 18 years.

 

 

 

Remand South

13

Accommodates remanded

 

 

detainees aged 15 to 18 years.

 

 

 

Southbank

15

Accommodates sentenced

 

 

detainees who are typically aged

 

 

15 to 16 years and are assessed as

 

 

particularly vulnerable, with high

 

 

needs and intellectual disabilities.

 

 

 

Eastern Hill

15

Accommodates detainees who are

 

 

usually aged 17 to 18 years and

 

 

have been convicted of a violent

 

 

offence or have displayed violent

 

 

behaviour while in custody.

 

 

 

Westgate

15

Accommodates sentenced

 

 

detainees aged 15 to 18 years.

 

 

 

All units

112

 

 

 

 

78.Staff informed my officers that the number of remandees in particular is at times considerably beyond the bed capacity of the Remand units. For example, there are 26 beds in the Remand North and Remand South units but the average number of male remandees aged 15 to 18 years in February 2010 was 49.

79.This has resulted in remanded detainees at the Justice Centre being moved to rooms in sentenced areas after ‘lock down’ at 8.00pm. However, this can create significant problems.

For example, three of the six detainees who escaped from Eastern Hill, a unit which is supposed to only house sentenced offenders, were on remand on the night of the escape on 19 May 2010.

22

 

investigation into conditions at the melbourne youth justice precinct

 

 

 

 

 

www.ombudsman.vic.gov.au

80.My investigators have also identified instances where remanded detainees were placed in sentenced units during the day. In a particular incident a remanded detainee was severely assaulted by four sentenced detainees in the Eastern Hill unit which is known to hold violent offenders.

81.My officers were advised by a Unit Manager that permission is sought from remanded detainees to move them into a sentenced unit due to overcrowding. However, my officers were told by other staff that at times, remanded detainees have no say in their relocation to a sentenced unit. This is reportedly more likely to occur if the detainee is disliked by staff.

82.The department has recently changed the Oakview unit from a sentenced unit to an admissions unit for remandees. Despite this, overflow continues to be an issue. My investigators were also advised that at times, overcrowding has resulted in mattresses being placed in isolation rooms that are not fitted with toilet facilities.

83.It is evident that the department is aware of the issues that have arisen because of over- crowding. My officers located an email dated 5 April 2010 from one staff member to another which states:

Once again we are sleeping clients in rooms that do not have toilet or shower facilities, last time we did this clients urinated in the sink, prior to this a client was given a bucket to use as a toilet, you would think it is a basic human right to have toilet facility [sic] at a minimum.

84.In response to the placement of detainees in isolation rooms overnight the department said:

Isolation rooms are used as bedrooms only when the centre is at capacity and this is considered to be a safer option than ‘doubling up’ detainees in rooms designed for one detainee. When this practice has been required during peak periods, staff are directed to escort detainees to toilets as needed. Detainees are not required to use buckets in place of toilets under any circumstances.

85.Asenior staff member advised my officers that the relocation of detainees from bedroom to bedroom has resulted in an increased amount of graffiti within bedrooms because detainees do not feel a sense of belonging or pride in their property.

86.My officers were also informed that sentenced and remanded detainees in the Residential Centre units reside in the same unit during the day and evening and attend the same programs.

87.In response to my concerns regarding overcrowding and inappropriate mixing of detainees the department stated:

Sentenced detainees and remanded detainees are at times placed together at the Melbourne Youth Justice Centre due to capacity issues … The high number of 15-18 year old male remand detainees at times results in bed shortages, therefore long- term remandees are sometimes classified to sentenced units with their consent. The classification process takes into account their age, security risk, length of remand, unit dynamics, location of co-offenders and special needs including mental health/ intellectual disability.

As a strategy to reduce remand numbers, the department commenced an Intensive Bail Support Pilot in June 2010 to provide an alternative to remand for young people who are assessed as suitable to remain in the community while their criminal matters are finalised.

conditions at the precinct

 

23

 

 

 

 

 

www.ombudsman.vic.gov.au

Safety issues

88.Numerous safety concerns including hanging points, blocked smoke detectors, electrical problems and unsafe grounds were identified by my officers during inspections of the

Precinct and in interviews with staff. Section 17 (2) of the Charter of Human Rights emphasises the special attention that must be given to ensuring the safety and protection of children:

(2) Every child has the right, without discrimination, to such protection as is in his or her best interests and is needed by him or her by reason of being a child.

Hanging points

89.The Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody was established in response to significant public concern about frequent and inadequately explained deaths of Aboriginal people in State and Territory correctional facilities.7

90.The Royal Commission’s report has implications for the safety of all detainees in custodial facilities. In particular, the report found that there were system defects in relation to maintaining appropriate standards of care for persons in custody particularly in relation to hanging points; or fixtures/places where a detainee could self-harm.

91.During site visits, numerous hanging points were identified throughout the Precinct. My investigators also sighted detainees’ shoes with overly long shoelaces. The availability of obvious hanging points and suspension materials poses a significant threat to the safety of detainees.

92.The department has since advised that it will commission a risk assessment ‘to identify and respond to any potential hanging points’.

Blocked smoke detector vents in bedrooms

93.There were smoke detector vents in several detainee rooms which were blocked with toothpaste and shaving cream. I note that section 3.10 of the department’s Operations Manual permits toothpaste to be held in rooms but does not allow shaving cream to be held in rooms.

94.My officers were informed by staff that the smoke vents are cleaned once a week on a

Tuesday morning. However, the two photographs on the following page of the same vent in a detainee’s bedroom were taken six days apart, before and after the vents were allegedly cleaned. It is clear that no attempt has been made to clean it and the vent remains blocked.

7Fact Sheet 112 – Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody. Available at <http://www.naa.gov.au/about-us/publications/fact-sheets/fs112.aspx#section1>.

24

 

investigation into conditions at the melbourne youth justice precinct

 

 

 

 

 

www.ombudsman.vic.gov.au

Photograph 1. A smoke detector vent in a detainee’s room. Photograph taken on Wednesday 17 March 2010.

Photograph 2.The same smoke vent as above. Photograph taken in the afternoon six days later onTuesday 23 March 2010, after the vents had allegedly been cleaned.

conditions at the precinct

 

25

 

 

 

 

 

www.ombudsman.vic.gov.au

95.During a site visit, my investigators spoke to a contractor testing the smoke vents who stated that he only tests the vents in the halls, not in bedrooms. This is clearly a significant safety risk, particularly in the event of a fire where detainees may be locked in their rooms.

96.A unit staff member said that while she can recall vents in the hallways being cleaned she has ‘never noticed them [cleaners] do the bedroom ones’.

97.The Acting Director of Youth Justice Custodial Services said:

We have a contract with our fire safety; they’d be very brave if they weren’t fulfilling the minimum standards … I’d be amazed if that wasn’t done to the Australian standards …

98.In response to my concerns regarding blocked smoke detectors the department advised that:

Products previously used by detainees to block the vents (such as toothpaste, hair gel and shaving cream) are now only permitted to be used under supervision.

99.In addition, the department advised that recently new smoke detector devices were installed across the Precinct. The department stated that the new equipment automatically alerts staff of blockages.

Electrical problems

100.Due to unprofessional maintenance work and inappropriate design, electrical hazards are a safety issue throughout the Precinct. For example, electrical sockets in the bedrooms are

accessible to detainees and are used to light cigarettes by accessing the live 240 volt wires. At interview, a staff member said that this was a significant safety concern resulting in detainees being electrocuted. An electrician said to this staff member:

there’s live wires … exposed in that kid’s room – you’re lucky that kid’s not dead …

101.Staff also informed my officers that electric plug covers are removable in detainee bedrooms thereby allowing detainees to hide contraband behind the covers.

102.My officers observed a plug in the Southbank kitchen which was connected to a water boiler and had been incorrectly wired. The plug had a clear plastic covering and the earth wire and positive wires were incorrectly placed. Astaff member advised my officers that this causes electrical shorts and that the plug had been rewired by an unqualified electrician.

103.An analysis of staff emails identified that electrical hazards are a problem throughout the Precinct and have resulted in serious injury. An email from a unit staff member to an

Industrial Organiser of the Community and Public Sector Union dated 30 August 2009 states:

Just to let you know that we have had another staff member electrocuted in Remand Unit (this time North Unit). Staff member … was checking in the fridge and she

has grabbed an electrical lead/component inside the fridge and has been given an electrical shock, this was witnesses by staff who removed … from the area and she was driven to the doctors and feedback is she was very, very lucky not to be killed.

104.My office obtained the following documents from the department in relation to two incidents involving staff electrocutions:

a WorkSafe Victoria Incident Notification Form completed by a staff member at the Justice Centre on 31 July 2009 in relation to a staff member receiving an

electrical shock from an industrial toaster (WorkSafe notification reference number:

310709-39-BH-CW)

26

 

investigation into conditions at the melbourne youth justice precinct

 

 

 

 

 

www.ombudsman.vic.gov.au

a WorkSafe Victoria Incident Notification Form completed by a staff member at the

Justice Centre on 31 August 2009 in relation to a staff member receiving an electrical shock from a malfunctioning fridge (WorkSafe notification reference number:

310809-65-BH-DW).

105.My office made enquiries with WorkSafe Victoria to confirm its receipt of notification for both incidents detailed above and any action taken following notification. Aresponse provided to my office on 2 August 2010 confirms that WorkSafe Victoria was informed of both incidents through oral and written notification by the department.

106.In response to the issues I have raised concerning electrical safety the department stated:

To address any electrical hazards … all electrical appliances have been subject to safety tests, which is now a routine process. The department will also remove power points from detainee bedrooms and install fixed line electrical connections for televisions and alarm clocks.

Risks arising from facility construction and design

107.The following safety risks to detainees and staff were also identified:

Detainees can climb onto the roof of buildings due to a low roof-line and exposed piping. Staff stated that it is extremely difficult to convince a detainee to get down from the roof once they are there. My officers were informed about an incident that occurred on 31 January 2009 wherein detainees from the Barnett unit climbed onto the roof resulting in Victoria Police’s Special Operations Group being contacted to remove the detainees. In response to my office’s concerns regarding the low roof line the department has advised that:

The low roof line at the Parkville Precinct which enables detainees to climb onto the roof … was identified by the department, and works to add anti-climb fencing to all buildings at PYRC [Parkville Youth Residential Centre] commenced in March 2010. Anti-climb fencing is now in place on all buildings at PYRC .

There are hollow, cracked bricks in the Precinct which allow for internal walls to be shaken. As a result, some of the parts of the building are unsafe. For example, a recreational room in the Barnett unit is limited in its use because of safety concerns arising from movement of an internal wall when it is pushed.

The facility has staircases in the middle of units which pose a risk to staff and detainee safety, particularly in the event of a critical incident.

The locks on detainees’ bedrooms are time consuming to open. One witness said:

these buildings here were commissioned [in] about ‘93 I think … they’re old, they’re in very poor state and I think umm in terms of a human rights point of view, the bedrooms … [are] below par … and unsafe … in these buildings … [bedrooms are] manually locked … [with] a three pin lock – top, bottom, side … if something’s happening in the room – it might be a double room with two kids

it takes time to get out … we’ve had two examples of fires in my time there in bedrooms in the Eastern Hill where at night … one night officer can’t open the door until somebody else comes …

The front of the Precinct is accessible to the public, allowing persons to easily enter the grounds of the Precinct.

conditions at the precinct

 

27

 

 

 

 

 

www.ombudsman.vic.gov.au

The Eastern Hill unit is located close to a boundary fence, resulting in contraband easily being thrown over the boundary wall. There is no CCTV on this boundary to assist in monitoring the introduction of contraband into the Justice Centre.

108.To address some of the security issues the department has advised that:

The Government has committed funds to build a single entry point as a matter of high priority to restrict access by the public to the precinct grounds and to clearly indicate rules of entry. A single point of entry will be completed this financial year.

Other works underway to address safety and security issues include removing bushes and shrubs from the boundary wall areas, introducing CCTV, introducing scanners and bag searches upon entry to the Precinct, increasing levels of staff supervision, and implementing new compliance monitoring systems and additional room and detainee searches.

These new measures will complement the existing security regime, which involves elements such as regular room searches and detainee searches and the use of sniffer dogs.

Unsafe grounds

109.During a site visit my officers inspected an Indigenous inspired garden in the Residential

Centre which was developed as a pleasant environment for detainees to engage in sports and relax.

110.My officers were informed that the garden cannot be used by detainees without one-on-one supervision by a staff member. This is because the land at the Residential Centre was covered in contaminated land-fill which results in pieces of glass rising to the surface. The Acting

Director of Youth Justice Custodial Services said:

The intent of that [the Indigenous inspired garden] was … honourable or well- intended, but it’s a logistical, security nightmare …

111.My officers collected sharp pieces of broken glass, bricks, pottery, nails and various other items from the garden which pose a danger to the safety of detainees and staff. My officers also sighted numerous bags which contained glass collected by staff from the garden.

Examples of this are shown in the photographs on the following page.

28

 

investigation into conditions at the melbourne youth justice precinct

 

 

 

 

 

www.ombudsman.vic.gov.au

Photograph 3. Glass and pottery collected by staff from the garden.

Photograph4.Sharpglass,ceramicandplasticcollectedbymyinvestigation officersduringavisitatthegarden.

112.The department’s Operation Manual acknowledges that suicide and self-harm are closely connected and the risk of self-harm can increase when a child is detained. Accordingly, staff advised that self-harming is a significant problem for female detainees. This is especially concerning since the garden is located outside the female Cullity unit and provides detainees with ample materials to injure themselves.

113.Staff informed my officers that there were several occasions where glass or other sharp material was collected from the garden for use by detainees who self-harm, particularly in the Cullity unit. My officers observed female detainees with severe scarring on their arms which was described by staff to have been as a result of cutting.

conditions at the precinct

 

29

 

 

 

 

 

www.ombudsman.vic.gov.au

Case study 1

An incident report dated 20 June 2009 was obtained by my office regarding a female detainee’s possession of contraband and intent to self-harm in the Cullity unit. The incident report states that a staff member had observed Detainee A to be ‘digging in the soil’ in the Indigenous garden. Detainee A admitted to staff that she had been digging for glass or ceramic pieces and that she ‘had a brick and was about to smash it through [the] programme house window’.

Detainee A handed two ‘large shards of ceramic’ to staff and was subject to an unclothed search (strip search) to ensure that she was not hiding any other contraband items. With approval from the Chief Executive Officer, the Unit Manager decided to place Detainee Ain isolation as staff were not convinced that Detainee A did not have other contraband obtained from the garden which she intended to use for self-harming purposes. I note that Detainee Ahas a significant history of self-harming behaviour.

Food and kitchen inspections

114.Section 37 of the United Nations Rules for the Protection of Juveniles Deprived of Liberty states:

Every detention facility shall ensure that every juvenile receives food that is suitably prepared and presented at normal meal times and of a quality and quantity to satisfy the standards of dietetics, hygiene and health and, as far as possible, religious and cultural requirements. Clean drinking water should be available to every juvenile at any time.

115.For the period 31 March 2009 to 31 March 2010 I received 36 complaints in relation to the Precinct, 19 per cent of which related to food.

116.Food in the Residential Centre is cooked on-site. The food provided to detainees at the Justice Centre is primarily cooked externally through a contracted service provider. On the weekends, Justice Centre staff cook for detainees or purchase take-away food. However, detainees are also able to prepare their own food at times. A Unit Manager informed my officers that due to long shifts, staff are able to eat with detainees at the Justice Centre but:

Most of them [staff] won’t eat it … some of the quality of the food isn’t real flash. I’ve eaten some of it and it hasn’t been real flash.

117.Up until 1 July 2010 the Food Act 1984 required that any crown food premises be registered with the Secretary of the Department of Health who can delegate this power to the relevant councils. In April 2010 my officers made enquiries with the Department of Health in relation to kitchen food and hygiene inspections. The Department of Health confirmed that the

Precinct and the Malmsbury Youth Justice Centre (Malmsbury) were not registered with it.

118.In April 2010 my office made enquiries with the City of Melbourne and the Macedon

Ranges Shire Council, the relevant councils in relation to registration of the Precinct and

Malmsbury. The councils also confirmed that neither the Precinct nor Malmsbury were registered with them.

119.My office obtained a document from the Department of Health which was signed by the

Secretary on 29 December 2009, delegating the registration and inspection of custodial facilities to the relevant local councils. I note that facilities operated by the Department of Justice are included on this list, but the Precinct and Malmsbury are omitted.

30

 

investigation into conditions at the melbourne youth justice precinct

 

 

 

 

 

www.ombudsman.vic.gov.au

120.In response to the concerns I have raised in this report regarding hygiene and food preparation the Secretary of the Department of Health said:

Prior to 1 July 2010 the department was responsible for registering both the Melbourne Youth Justice Precinct and the Malmsbury Youth Justice Centre as food premises under the Food Act 1984 as the power to register these Crown facilities was not delegated to the relevant councils.

However, on 1 July 2010, changes to section 35 of the Food Act came into operation. As a result, councils are now registration authorities for all food premises in their municipal districts, making delegation of this responsibility to councils unnecessary.

All councils have been notified of this change to the Act.

I have inquired into why these facilities were not previously registered by the department and why registration responsibility was not delegated to the relevant local councils if the department did not intend to carry out this function.

I have been advised that this was an administrative oversight.

I am informed that juvenile justice facilities were overlooked … and no delegation of power to councils to register these facilities under the Food Act was ever made. This was an oversight. However, as a result, the department was unaware that it had responsibility for registering these facilities under the Food Act.

I am pleased to advise that the Malmsbury Youth Justice Centre has now been registered as a food premises with Macedon Ranges Shire Council. The Melbourne Youth Justice Precinct is in the process of obtaining registration with Melbourne City Council .

121.On 12 April 2010 I requested that DHS provide reports of any kitchen food and safety audits of the Precinct in the past ten years. Two reports were provided to my office. The first relates to a food safety audit completed in August 2009. The report states that the food safety standards are inconsistent ‘and need to be attended as a matter of high priority’.

122.The second report was also completed in August 2009 and relates to the quality of food. An overall score of 49.71 per cent was derived for the quality of food.

123.Both reports only relate to the Justice Centre. It would appear that the Residential Centre has not been reviewed in the past ten years.

124.My officers examined the kitchen areas of some units in the Justice Centre and identified:

food which was in the fridge and freezer uncovered

undated refrigerated and frozen food

empty soap containers for washing hands

kitchen floors that were slippery

unhygienic conditions, particularly in the fridge/freezer of some units as illustrated in photographs 5 and 6.

conditions at the precinct

 

31

 

 

 

 

 

www.ombudsman.vic.gov.au

Photograph5.Uncoveredfishinthefreezer.Photographtakenon6April2010.

Photograph 6. Food and leakage at the bottom of freezer. Photograph taken on 6 April 2010.

Maintenance and standards

125.The Precinct buildings have been poorly maintained with many areas in a state of disrepair. Where maintenance work was conducted, it did not appear to be of a professional standard and has resulted in untidy workmanship and at times posed an occupational health and safety risk.

126.During interview on 14 April 2010, a Unit Coordinator said:

I know at the young women’s unit, I mean it’s only eight, nine years old, and tiles are all falling off which is a major issue again for the self-harming

32

 

investigation into conditions at the melbourne youth justice precinct

 

 

 

 

 

www.ombudsman.vic.gov.au

127.A lack of maintenance was clearly evident throughout the Precinct, particularly in relation to:

rising damp

flaking plaster and paint

ripped and worn carpet (refer to photograph 7)

slippery surface in the detainees’ showers.

Photograph 7. Mould and ripped carpet in a detainee’s bedroom.These conditions were widespread throughout the Precinct.

128.A number of windows in detainees’ rooms were broken, resulting in inadequate ventilation and metal bars broken off windows. This is of significant concern in a custodial facility were the bar could be used as a weapon against staff and detainees.

129.The photograph below illustrates an example of poor workmanship on a door and a clear lack of maintenance.

Photograph8.Unstabledoorwhichhashadholesredrilledonnumerousoccasions.

conditions at the precinct

 

33

 

 

 

 

 

www.ombudsman.vic.gov.au

130.At interview on 21 April 2010, the Acting Director of Youth Justice Custodial Services said, in relation to the conditions at the Precinct:

It’s unacceptable and I take responsibility for that … that’s been a long term build-up … buildings are ageing … Eastern Hill in particular is a badly designed building, it’s really not fit for purpose, I mean it has a staircase in it … [but] we’ve taken our eyes off the ball, we’ve probably become used to it … I think maybe the Melbourne [Justice Centre] staff are worn out, I think maybe they’re tired. The numbers [of detainees] have been much higher than we have had…

131.During interviews and site visits, several witnesses informed my officers that the maintenance budget is not sufficient to address the maintenance needs of the Precinct.

132.In response to maintenance issues raised in my report the department said:

The department agrees that maintenance and capital planning needs to be improved … and has established a new whole of department capital planning and implementation unit within the Housing and Community Building Division. The group is now managing the asset requirements for the centres. Since July 2010, maintenance and capital works have been overseen by this specialist Division.

The department acknowledges that the general conditions of the Precinct should be maintained at a high standard that is appropriate to the detention and care of children and young people with complex needs. The department will implement additional external oversight mechanisms to ensure that the condition of the Precinct improves and is maintained.

The department has identified the Eastern Hill Unit as the area of most concern …

Graffiti

133.There was extensive graffiti, particularly in the Justice Centre, which clearly demonstrated a lack of standards not conducive to a rehabilitative setting.

134.My officers were informed that detainees are directed to wash off graffiti if staff can identify the perpetrator. At times, detainees are reportedly fined for graffiti. However, my officers observed ‘tags’ of detainees’ names in numerous locations with no obvious attempt at cleaning. Much of the graffiti did not appear to be recent. Graffiti was observed to be significantly worse in Eastern Hill, Southbank, and Westgate (Refer to Appendix B for photographs of graffiti).

135.Staff explained that graffiti had a cyclical effect in influencing negative behaviour. AUnit

Manager said:

… If you live in a place that doesn’t deserve to be respected, why would you respect it? … If you have a clean room, you try and keep it clean ‘cause it’s nice and you have some respect for it. If you’ve got graffiti on the walls before you even walk in, why would you respect it?

34

 

investigation into conditions at the melbourne youth justice precinct

 

 

 

 

 

www.ombudsman.vic.gov.au

Dirty conditions

136.Overall, the conditions at the facility were generally dirty, unhygienic and ill-maintained. The photographs following are self evident in demonstrating this.

Photograph9.Uncleanandpoorlymaintainedconditionsinadetainee’sbathroom.

Photograph 10. Unclean conditions in a detainee’s bedroom.

conditions at the precinct

 

35

 

 

 

 

 

www.ombudsman.vic.gov.au

Photograph11.Dirtyandpoorlymaintainedconditionsinadetainee’sbathroom.

137.In relation to the dirty and unkempt conditions a unit staff member said:

OH&S … the representatives are never accountable for bringing things up in meetings. We can tell them till the cows come home to bring these things up in meetings and then we never hear what’s actually occurred in the meeting or if its been discussed …

I printed off a big pile of paperwork about mould and diseases and the effects it can have on people and gave it to our OH&S representative … we’ve asked for months and months to have something done … even staff weren’t coming into work because they were getting colds and chest infections …

138.In response to the issues I have raised regarding dirty conditions the department said:

Staff and managers have been informed that graffiti and dirty conditions will not be tolerated and cannot be left unaddressed … Compliance with room inspections is now being monitored by the CEO to ensure adherence to this instruction. In addition, monthly OH&S condition reports are submitted to the Director YJCS [Youth Justice Custodial Services].

139.Through an analysis of emails, my officers identified that infection from various strains of

Staphylococcus Aureus has been a problem throughout the Precinct for a number of years (Refer to Appendix C for emails relating to Staphylococcus and hygiene).

140.Staphylococcus Aureus, also referred to as Golden Staph, is a bacterial infection which can cause mild to severe infections. The most common infections caused by Staphylococcus Aureus are boils and abscesses which present on the skin and impetigo/school sores which are a highly contagious crusty infection of the skin. Staphylococcus Aureus is easily spread in unhygienic conditions.8

8Better Health Channel. Staphylococcus aureus – golden staph. Department of Heath, February 2009. Website available at: <http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Staphylococcus_aureus_golden_staph>.

36

 

investigation into conditions at the melbourne youth justice precinct

 

 

 

 

 

www.ombudsman.vic.gov.au

141.Hygiene within detainees’ bedrooms is also an issue. A staff member who works in Remand South, a unit characterised by high detainee turnover said:

… at the moment we’ve got a couple of kids there that, through being victims of sexual abuse and that, of a night time poo themselves … I reckon we could have four or five kids in … the Remand unit any night of the week that actually wet the bed … the mattresses are saturated. The kid will get up, he’ll go to Court … His mattress is just left in there. Staff have to strip it. We’ll sit it in the sun a bit to dry as best we can but if we need a bed that night, it comes back in and goes back on that bed and the next kid comes in, makes it [the bed] up and sits on it.

We’ve had kids that have had scabies … about three months ago we had kids that had

– started off as little sores – Golden Staph … it was detected on one kid in Remand North and Doctors knew about it, told management and management [decided] … lets move the kid to Westgate and left the mattress there [in Remand North] … because the kid had sores on his back … the wound was weeping puss and that into the mattress. Next kid come in of a night time and just put a sheet over it … he woke up in the morning and was itchy … it went from possibly one kid having it to probably a dozen to 15 …

142.Staff stated that they were aware of instances where their colleagues had failed to change bed sheets in between detainees occupying rooms.

Conclusions

143.The conditions at the Precinct, as illustrated by the photographs, are disgraceful. They reflect poorly on the management and a number of staff at the Precinct and are clearly in breach of principles contained in the Charter of Human Rights; the United Nations Rules for the Protection of Juveniles Deprived of their Liberty; and the Australasian Juvenile Justice Administration Standards for Juvenile Custodial Facilities.

144.Following the provision of my report to the department it said:

The department will update the Operations Manual with specific requirements for cleaning and sanitation to reduce the incidence of bacterial infections transmitted between detainees within the centres … Bacterial infections are a particular issue at the remand units where there is full capacity and high turnover of detainees.

Increased monitoring to enforce the improved cleaning regime has been introduced. YJCS [Youth Justice Custodial Services] will also consult with the hospital sector to identify technical solutions and procedural improvements that can be made to reduce the likelihood of transmission.

145.I consider that the design and location of the Precinct is inappropriate for a custodial facility which houses vulnerable children who have the propensity to harm themselves, other detainees and staff. This is particularly apparent given hanging points, glass bricks which create blind spots, staircases which pose a falling hazard, electrical risks, internal walls that move when pushed on and glass in the Indigenous inspired garden which prohibit it being used by detainees unless there is one-on-one supervision by a staff member.

conditions at the precinct

 

37

 

 

 

 

 

www.ombudsman.vic.gov.au

146.The department has advised that since I wrote to the Secretary on 22 March 2010 about the conditions it has:

prioritised upgrading fire systems, installing anti-climb fencing, re-keying the

Parkville Precinct and refurbishing the Eastern Hill Unit to address immediate occupational health and safety issues …

The department is developing an OHS audit tool to track compliance with the OHS Management System …

Funding of $16.6 million has been committed to accelerate the implementation of new safety and security measures across the Parkville Precinct …

147.While the cleanliness, graffiti and security issues discussed in this report should be addressed promptly, I consider that the structural problems I have identified are beyond simply maintenance and repair. In my view, the only practical way to address the conditions at the Precinct in the long-term is to develop a new facility at another site.

148.It is clear that the current buildings and conditions do not comply with:

the Charter of Human Rights

recommendations arising from the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody

Government health regulations

the United Nations Rules for the Protection of Juveniles Deprived of their Liberty.

149.The construction of recreational facilities such as a basketball court, recreational room and garden which are limited in their use is a significant waste of public money and reflects poorly on the management of the Precinct.

150.Overcrowding is a significant issue in relation to the placement of detainees and the impact on detainee behaviour. Overcrowding also presents significant management issues as tension between detainees is more likely to be heightened during overcrowded conditions. Overcrowding has also contributed to the high prevalence of communicable infections such as scabies, Staphylococcus Aureus and school sores.

151.I consider that the placement of detainees of widely varying ages and different custodial status in the same unit to be a breach of Section 482 (1)(c-d) of the Children, Youth and Families Act (the Act) and the Charter of Human Rights, in particular sections 22(2), 22(3), 23(1) and 23(3). Both the Charter of Human Rights and the Act discuss the separation of persons accused of an offence from persons convicted of an offence and the appropriate treatment of children. I note that the age range of female detainees in the Cullity unit can range between 10 and 21 years of age. This creates the potential for very young children who have not been convicted or sentenced by the Children’s Court to share accommodation with twenty-one year old women sentenced in the Magistrates, County or Supreme Courts. These arrangements create a situation in which younger detainees could be bullied or negatively influenced. Placing detainees of different ages, maturity levels and history of offending does not promote a rehabilitative environment or meet the needs of detainees.

38

 

investigation into conditions at the melbourne youth justice precinct

 

 

 

 

 

www.ombudsman.vic.gov.au

152.Similarly, I also consider the placement of sentenced and remanded male detainees in the same unit to be a breach of the Charter of Human Rights. The department’s procedures do not make any reference to their charter obligations.

153.While I note that section 482(1)(c-d) of the Children, Youth and Families Act refers to specific provisions which provide for sentenced and remanded detainees to be mixed in some circumstances, I question the appropriateness of the provisions. For example, section 482(1) (c)(ii) refers to the mix of remanded and sentenced detainees where ‘persons on remand consent’. In my view, young offenders under the legal adult age may not always be equipped to give informed consent. In addition, it is clear that section 482(1)(c)(ii) of the Act is at times breached because not all remandees have a choice in their relocation to a sentenced unit. They are simply placed there.

154.Blocked smoke detector vents; the accessibility of glass and sharp objects in the garden; failure to comply with food safety standards; combined with the outbreak of Staphylococcus Aureus related infections due to unhygienic conditions are indicative of a facility which fails to meet both basic occupational health and safety standards and human rights standards expected of a youth custodial centre in Australia.

155.I also consider that the department has not complied with the Food Act as it has failed to ensure that the Precinct and Malmsbury are registered in accordance with the Food Act. It is of concern that the Residential Centre’s kitchens have not been inspected in the past ten years and that the Justice Centre has only been audited twice by private agencies commissioned by the department. This reflects a lack of independent oversight and compliance with food safety regulations. In addition, by any standard the conditions in which food is kept is unhygienic and disgraceful.

156.It is clear that the department has failed to meet its statutory obligations under the Children Youth and Families Act and human rights principles. In my view, this brings into question the capacity of the department to operate youth justice services. As a minimum, the Precinct requires inspection and oversight by an external body such as that provided by the Office of Correctional Services Review and the Official Visitors program for Victorian prisoners.

157.The department stated that it intends to increase the external scrutiny on the operations of the Parkville Youth Justice Precinct. The department has commenced discussions with the

Office of Correctional Services Review in the Department of Justice to gauge its capacity to undertake inspections and monitoring of the youth justice centres, and will also review

inspection and auditing processes used in other jurisdictions. The use of independent official visitors is also being considered.

158.In light of the department’s response, I propose to monitor its progress in improving conditions at the Precinct with a view to reporting to Parliament in 12 months time.

159.In addition, as the conditions at the Precinct should have been obvious to all staff over a lengthy period of time, I recommend that the performance of all current staff be reviewed in light of the matters raised in my report.

conditions at the precinct

 

39

 

 

 

 

 

www.ombudsman.vic.gov.au

Recommendations

I recommend that the department:

Recommendation 1

Review the suitability of the Precinct in light of my investigation with a view to replacing it with a new facility.

The department’s response

Accepted – a taskforce has been established to develop options that can be considered by Government to address issues relating to the suitability and capacity of the centres. This will include the best long-term location of the Centres and options for separate management arrangements for high risk offenders. The capacity to transfer detainees from the Parkville Precinct to the Malmsbury Youth Justice Centre already exists, options for classifying high risk offenders between 16 and 18 years of age to a distinct unit at Malmsbury Youth Justice Centre will be given particular consideration.

Recommendation 2

Review the policies and practices relating to conditions to ensure that they comply with human rights principles.

The department’s response

Accepted – a review of policies and procedures to ensure compliance with Human Rights principles will be initiated and completed by December 2010.

Recommendation 3

Review the food handling and food preparation areas.

The department’s response

Accepted – On July 2010 amendments to the Food Act required both Precincts be registered as per the legislation. Malmsbury has been registered with the local council since July 2010 with the first inspection occurring in July. Parkville is in the process of being registered. Both

Centres will be subject to regular food and kitchen inspections.

In addition, YJCS [Youth Justice Custodial Services] is engaging an Environmental Health

Officer to assist with the development of a Food Safety Plan and Food Safety Training, and the training of a Food Safety Supervisor, to ensure that PYJP [Parkville Youth Justice Precinct] can meet the terms of the registration.

Regular inspections will be undertaken.

40

 

investigation into conditions at the melbourne youth justice precinct

 

 

 

 

 

www.ombudsman.vic.gov.au

Recommendation 4

Review the Operations Manual to ensure that it draws on up-to-date legislative and policy provisions and addresses the matters identified in this report.

The department’s response

Accepted – The department has begun the process of updating the Operations Manual. The process will be completed by June 2011.

Recommendation 5

Review the performance of all current staff.

The department’s response

Accepted – Performance reviews were conducted for all staff by end June 2010. The Government has committed 1 million dollars over the next four years to begin the process of developing staff capabilities through an enhanced training program. New supervising and compliance practices implemented will increase the capacity of managers to monitor and respond to staff performance issues.

Recommendation 6

Ensure the Precinct and the Malmsbury Youth Justice Centre are registered in accordance with the Food Act 1984.

The department’s response

Accepted – Malmsbury has been registered with the local council and was first inspected on

29 July 2010. Parkville is in the process of being registered. Both Centres will be subject to regular food and kitchen inspections.

conditions at the precinct

 

41

 

 

 

 

 

www.ombudsman.vic.gov.au

4. ALLEGATIONS OF IMPROPER CONDUCT

160.During the course of my investigation, current and former staff raised concerns about the conduct of officers at the Precinct, in particular the Justice Centre. It was alleged that staff:

incited physical fights between detainees

assaulted detainees

used excessive force during restraints on detainees

introduced contraband into the Precinct

falsified records for the purpose of staff being paid for shifts they failed to attend or failed to complete

stole goods and consumables from the Precinct

slept during night shift or unlocked doors to detainees’ bedrooms at night.

161.Management was aware of many of the above allegations concerning the conduct of staff, but at times failed to take appropriate action. My investigation therefore examined how the department addressed allegations of improper conduct against individual officers and concerns regarding unethical behaviour and the neglect of duty more generally.

Inciting physical assault

162.Several witnesses said that staff had encouraged fights between detainees. Inciting violence was described as a means of punishing detainees who ‘deserved’ it or as a way to encourage detainees to resolve their issues. One witness said:

I’ve heard staff say ‘just hurry up and get it over and done with … Sort out your crap … Hurry up and do something if you’re going to do it ’… meaning that they [staff] are going to allow them [detainees] to fight so they can sort out whatever issue they have with each other because they have been continually mouthing [off] … at each other … sometimes I think when they [staff] say that it’s so that they can then restrain the clients and have the issue resolved. Other times I think they just want to see them

[detainees] fight.

163.The whistleblower alleged that staff allowed detainees to gather at the Justice Centre’s oval or in the courtyard to engage in physical violence to resolve their disputes. While managers interviewed during my investigation were unsure as to whether these incidents were merely based on rumour, there was no evidence to suggest that the department sought to thoroughly investigate the matter when it had been raised in the past.

164.The case study below details an incident in which managers suspected staff to have incited violence against a detainee, however an investigation contracted by the department failed to sufficiently examine the conduct of staff involved at the time.

42

 

investigation into conditions at the melbourne youth justice precinct

 

 

 

 

 

www.ombudsman.vic.gov.au

Case study 2

The public interest disclosure provided to my office included detail about an incident which allegedly occurred in the laundry of the Eastern Hill unit on 1 January 2010. The incident involved four detainees following Detainee B (aged 17) into the laundry and assaulting him. The department’s incident report states that Detainee B was found by staff at approximately 4.15pm. Detainee B’s injuries were extensive, including a severely swollen eye and fractured right eye socket. Staff also reported that Detainee B lost consciousness as a result of the attack and was ‘spitting up blood’.

The department contracted an external provider to conduct a review of the incident. The contractor’s report makes reference to different theories which were proposed by staff to explain how the incident occurred, including the theory that Detainee B:

… had been alienated and/or annoying staff and clients [detainees] in the period prior to the assault and that staff deliberately locked him in the laundry with other clients to, ‘teach him a lesson’.

Managers were of the view that staff must have been aware of the incident, particularly since the laundry is located near the staff console (see diagram 1 below).

Diagram 1.The Eastern Hill unit.

allegations of improper conduct 43

 

www.ombudsman.vic.gov.au

There were eight staff members on the unit floor on the day of the incident. The department directed the contractor not to interview Officer A because he resigned after the incident. Officer B was also not interviewed because of an ongoing illness. Four other staff members provided written statements but refused to be interviewed. The remaining two members of staff, Officer C and Officer D refused to participate in the review. Three other staff members, who were not on the unit floor at the time of the incident, were the only members of staff who agreed to participate in an interview.

The contractor’s review does not make any findings in relation to the alleged involvement of staff in the incident. The report concludes Detainee B was ‘assaulted by a number of fellow clients [detainees]’ and the contractor is ‘satisfied that the assault took place in the

Eastern Hill laundry area’. It makes a recommendation relating to the installation of video surveillance equipment in units.

165.I have examined the report and I note that there is evidence included in the report which is questionable, contradictory, or requires clarification through further avenues of enquiry.

For example:

The report does not include direct interview evidence from persons who were in the unit at the time of the incident.

The report presents evidence which indicates that Detainee B was found with injuries at 4.15pm by an officer, however the incident was not reported to the Unit

Manager until 4.50pm, some 35 minutes later. Reasons for this delay were not discussed in the report.

During an interview one officer informed the contractor that he had heard that detainees were in ‘lockdown’ at the time of the incident and the alleged victim was placed in a bedroom with other detainees ‘in order to teach him a lesson’. Evidence indicating that the assault may have taken place during a lockdown in a detainee’s bedroom was not considered in the report.

The report states that the victim allegedly disclosed the names of his attackers to a

Unit Manager. However, this officer was not interviewed.

166.Despite the discrepancies in evidence or the failure to pursue what were in my view, obvious lines of enquiry, the department did not initiate a further investigation after it reviewed the contractor’s report.

167.In response to my report the department states that it ‘accepts the seriousness of the incident in case study 2’.

168.I have been advised that due to concerns raised by my office, the department has contracted another investigator to conduct another investigation into the incident described in case study 2. My office has recently been informed that this investigation has been finalised.

169.I note that to date, the department has not implemented the recommendation of installing video surveillance in common areas of all units.

44

 

investigation into conditions at the melbourne youth justice precinct

 

 

 

 

 

www.ombudsman.vic.gov.au

170.The current Chief Executive Officer of the Precinct informed my officers that the implementation of CCTV was previously proposed in an October 2009 paper emailed to the Youth Justice Custodial Services Executive Team, the department’s Legal Services Branch and the Community and Public Sector Union. The paper recommended a trial of CCTV in the Remand units and provided a number of reasons as to why CCTV is advantageous and the primary purpose of CCTV, including:

a reduction of incidents of violence

the use of CCTV footage for the induction of staff, restraint training, and incident analysis

the use of CCTV as credible evidence to expedite investigations and protect staff from allegations of misconduct

improving the safety of the unit

acting as a general site management tool.

171.The paper also draws on my report titled Investigation into the use of excessive force at the Melbourne Custody Centre,9 stating:

In 2007, the Victorian Ombudsman received a complaint from an adult prisoner at the Melbourne Correctional [sic] Centre (MCC) of assault when they were strip searched. The Ombudsman retrieved CCTV footage of the search and did conclude that the prisoner’s human rights had been breached because of the assault (i.e. the prisoner was subjected to cruel/ inhuman or degrading treatment as well as not having received humane treatment when deprived of liberty).

In this case the Ombudsman took the unprecedented step of tabling this report (Investigation into the use of excessive force at the Melbourne Custody Centre) in Parliament along with the CCTV footage on DVD to visually demonstrate that unacceptable and excessive force was used in this search. This case demonstrates the validity and importance of CCTV footage for use as both evidence and for program improvement.

172.The Acting Director of Youth Justice Custodial Services advised that a submission to fund the implementation of a CCTV trial was put to the department’s head office in 2009, however the submission was rejected at the time.

173.The department is aware of my concerns in relation to its failure to install CCTV. I understand that the Chief Executive Officer and theActing Director of Youth Justice Custodial Services have subsequently commenced arrangements to implement a trial of CCTV in the Remand and Eastern Hill units after receiving funding from the department this year.

Allegations of assault against detainees by staff

174.In addition to inciting assaults between detainees, witnesses said that staff have assaulted detainees and at times have attempted to conceal an assault during a restraint. I have examined ten investigation reports or outcomes relating to the department’s response to allegations

of assault by staff between the period 2008 to 2010. I note that while investigations are conducted they are often impeded by a lack of policy which directs how investigations are to be undertaken. In addition, the investigation outcome is at times limited by management’s confusion regarding the role of the department when Victoria Police is investigating.

9 Ombudsman Victoria, Investigation into the use of excessive force at the Melbourne Custody Centre, November 2007.

allegations of improper conduct 45

 

www.ombudsman.vic.gov.au

Case study 3

I reviewed a report completed by a private organisation contracted by the department to investigate allegations of assault by Officer E. It was alleged that on 28 February 2009 Officer E hit Detainee C to the back of the head, causing him to fall. A statement from Detainee C, included in the investigation report, states that Officer E continued to hit him and said ‘open your mouth, I will spit in your mouth you dog’. Officer E allegedly proceeded to spit in Detainee C’s mouth, head-butt and threaten Detainee C, saying ‘if you say one word I will kill you, I run this place, I know people, I will get you bashed’.

The investigation concluded that there was sufficient evidence to prove, to the required standard, the allegation that Officer E assaulted Detainee C. However, the available evidence was not sufficient to substantiate that Officer E threatened to kill Detainee C or organise that he be assaulted by other persons in the Precinct.

175.Despite the substantiated allegation of assault in the above case, the department has not finalised its response to Officer E’s conduct. Officer E has been stood down from work with pay since 1 March 2009, despite his Working with Children Check being revoked.

176.My officers queried why Officer E is continuing to remain stood down with pay without the matter being finalised. The Human Resources Manager explained that in accordance with the Victorian Public Service Agreement 2006, 2009 Extended and varied Version (VPS Agreement) the department has sought to schedule a ‘show cause’ hearing in which Officer E is able to respond to allegations against him and any subsequent decisions made by the department in relation to his employment. The Human Resources Manager said that the finalisation of this has been delayed:

Because it’s [the investigation] a dog’s breakfast … The staff member [Officer E] was charged with umm two offences … by police … assault charges essentially … there was a series of Court dates which were of course adjourned … he said ‘I’ll participate in your investigation’ but his lawyers lobbied with us to permit him to have his Court matters resolved before he umm was interviewed by us, which we agreed to on a number of occasions …

177.I note that section 17.8.6 of the VPS Agreement refers to ‘reasonable’ timeframes in relation to the opportunity for employees to respond to substantiated misconduct allegations.

Specifically, the VPS Agreement states:

As soon as practicable after the investigator has made a finding that any allegation of misconduct is substantiated, the Employee will be provided with the findings of the investigator and the proposed discipline outcome.

The Employee will be given a reasonable time [emphasise added] to respond to the findings or the material and the recommended discipline outcome. Any response must be provided within the above reasonable time [emphasise added].

178.The Human Resources Manager has advised my office that a copy of the investigation report has been provided to Officer E, and a ‘show cause’ hearing has now been scheduled for

October 2010.

46

 

investigation into conditions at the melbourne youth justice precinct

 

 

 

 

 

www.ombudsman.vic.gov.au

179.The department responded to my concerns regarding the delay in finalising the investigation of allegations described in case study 3, as follows:

In this case, the Human Resources Manager assessed this course of action as preferable to Fair Work Commission hearings that can occur if the investigation process operates outside the principles of industrial agreement.

Allegations of excessive force during restraints of detainees

180.According to the department’s Operations Manual, restraints of detainees are a ‘reactive strategy’ encompassing physical intervention by staff. However, physical restraints are also defined as a last resort where other methods of behaviour management have not been successful.

181.Section 487(b) of the Children, Youth and Families Act 2005 prohibits the use of physical force by staff at a youth justice or residential centre unless it:

(i)is necessary to prevent the person or child from harming himself or herself or anyone else or from damaging property; or

(ii)is necessary for the security of the centre or police gaol; or

(iii)is otherwise authorised by or under this or any other Act or common law.

182.Despite the legal and policy provisions, several officers described restraints as an opportunity for staff to physically harm detainees through the use of excessive force. For example, a unit staff member said:

… we’ve got staff that probably shouldn’t work there, they’re just too angry … they are bullies … when they restrain, they restrain properly in the unit, but by the time they get down to the isolation rooms, anything can happen down there … it might be an extra knee into the back or a couple of kicks here or a punch here, ramming boys heads into walls and things like that.

183.Where it is alleged that an employee has assaulted a detainee, the department is required to report the allegation to Victoria Police. Departmental policy states that internal disciplinary investigations regarding the conduct of staff should proceed even when police are investigating:

If an employee is the subject of a criminal charge, the department has responsibility to investigate an allegation, even when police are involved, and to determine appropriate action in terms of the employee’s employment with the department. In these cases, liaison with Victoria Police and the local human resources manager is necessary so that the police investigation is not compromised in any way.

184.The following case study relates to an incident where the department did not finalise a disciplinary investigation because of police involvement, contrary to the above policy.

allegations of improper conduct 47

 

www.ombudsman.vic.gov.au

Case study 4

During the course of my investigation, I became aware of an incident in which a staff member allegedly observed two colleagues, Officer C and Officer F, physically assault Detainee D during a restraint in the Remand North unit on 28 April 2010. The department’s incident report states that Detainee D was tampering with the sprinkler system in his bedroom and after becoming physically aggressive toward staff, he was carried into the isolation room.

Although omitted in the incident report, a Unit Manager informed my officers that:

staff from the Eastern Hill unit were called to assist in restraining the detainee

a staff member present at the incident disclosed that another staff member kicked Detainee D.

On the 4 May 2010 the Operations Manager informed my officers that Officer C and Officer F were stood down ‘pending police investigation’. He further stated that the department cannot fully proceed with disciplinary action when a police investigation is underway.

185.I note that similar approaches have been applied to other investigations involving the potential improper conduct of staff. My officers were informed about an incident in which Officer G, a unit staff member was temporarily stood down pending an investigation into allegations of physical assault against a detainee. When my officers queried who was conducting the investigation, a senior staff member provided the name of a police officer and said that an internal investigation by the department was not completed because:

It didn’t start, basically … once the police take over we have to cease all investigations and then depending on whatever the [police] outcome is then we would, you know do our own [investigation].

186.In response to my report the department has advised that the investigation into allegations of staff misconduct referred to in case study 4 have now been finalised. It advised that the allegations were substantiated and disciplinary action is being taken. The department acknowledges that:

While clear guidelines are in place regarding the role of the department in investigations when police are involved, it is apparent that these guidelines are not well understood by all staff. The department will clearly communicate these guidelines to relevant staff.

Measures to prevent excessive force during restraints

187.The department’s Operations Manual states that it is the Chief Executive Officer’s responsibility to ensure that mandatory and regular restraint training is provided to staff. Training is a necessary measure to prevent excessive force during restraints and to ensure that restraints are conducted correctly for the safety of both staff and detainees.

188.Witnesses stated that the provision of training in restraints was inconsistent across the Precinct. While some units were more likely to deliver regular training to their staff than others, a full-time staff member in the Remand South unit commented that he ‘had restraint training three years ago’.

48

 

investigation into conditions at the melbourne youth justice precinct

 

 

 

 

 

www.ombudsman.vic.gov.au

Case study 5

In April 2009, Detainee E complained to my office about excessive force used by staff during a restraint, resulting in her sustaining a broken arm. My office conducted enquiries with the department and the department advised that it referred the allegation to police and conducted its own assessment. The department’s Preliminary Assessment Report states that as police did not proceed with a criminal investigation there ‘was no evidence at this stage of misconduct’ by staff. Potential staff misconduct was therefore not included in the scope of the department’s Preliminary Assessment Report.

While the report did not consider staff conduct, it concluded that the restraint technique contributed to Detainee E’s injury. As such, a review of restraint training techniques for Youth Justice Custodial Services was recommended.

189.In August 2009 a review into restraint training in Youth Justice and Residential Centres was completed by the National Leadership Institute. The National Leadership Institute’s report, titled Preventing Occupational Violence states:

Youth Justice Centres require all permanent and contract staff to undergo training in the prevention of occupational violence as part of the induction program. Currently, the delivery and format of this training is not fully standardised; that is, there are no clear guidelines regarding schedules or timing for such activities.

All staff working in operational roles in the centres are also required to undertake regular refresher training; however, the frequency, duration and focus of such refreshers are not clearly specified. Consequently, refresher training tends to be ad- hoc, rather than planned and delivered in a consistent manner.

190.The National Leadership Institute conducted a survey of staff from the Precinct and Malmsbury Youth Justice Centre as part of its review and found that:

32 per cent of survey respondents did not agree that departmental guidelines on what constitutes ‘reasonable force’ during a restraint were sufficient

21 per cent stated that they were not aware or did not understand the department’s expectations of them during a restraint

53.7 per cent did not agree that induction training prepared them for their role

48.8 per cent did not agree that training has adequately prepared them to partake in a restraint

46.3 per cent did not agree that training has prepared them to use other strategies to prevent occupational violence other than restraints.

191.The National Leadership Institute’s report made a number of recommendations to improve departmental practice, one of which related to a ‘training the trainer’ model whereby an external provider coaches internal training staff on current strategies to prevent occupational violence. The objective of this was to ensure that internal trainers are adequately skilled in all aspects relating to the prevention of occupational violence and to enable refresher training with up-to-date restraint techniques. I understand that the department has contracted an external provider to implement this recommendation.

allegations of improper conduct 49

 

www.ombudsman.vic.gov.au

Contraband

192.In my June 2008 report titled Investigation into contraband entering a prison and related issues,10

I commented:

Generally, the availability of contraband contributes to a weakening of good governance within a prison and undermines the aims of making a prison environment safe and secure. Perceptions about inadequate control and poor security, even widespread lawlessness can be created and this can undermine public confidence in the prison system.

193.During my current investigation I received evidence that contraband frequently enters the Precinct primarily through three avenues: visitors, ‘over the wall’ and staff.

194.In accordance with the department’s Operations Manual, contraband refers to:

unauthorised articles such as cigarettes, weapons, explosive devices, flammable liquids, drugs, alcohol, money, tools, restricted publications and audio-visual material, and any other article not issued to the client [detainee].

195.Contraband seized during searches of the Precinct by staff and sighted by my officers included:

tobacco

green vegetable matter which appeared to be marijuana

white powder

pills

money

glass

lighters

hand-made sharp objects

syringes

metal bars.

196.Photographs 12, 13 and 14 illustrate the types of contraband seized.

10 Ombudsman Victoria, Investigation into contraband entering a prison and related issues, June 2008, page 8.

50

 

investigation into conditions at the melbourne youth justice precinct

 

 

 

 

 

www.ombudsman.vic.gov.au

Photograph 12.Tobacco seized during a room search.

Photograph 13. Screws, bolts and syringes seized during room searches.

Photograph 14. Hand-made sharp weapons.

allegations of improper conduct 51

 

www.ombudsman.vic.gov.au

Staff bringing contraband into the Precinct

197.The whistleblower stated that staff brought contraband into the Precinct for detainees.

During interviews, current and former staff confirmed that tobacco, cigarettes and lighters are brought into the Precinct by staff and provided to detainees. It should be noted that unlike adult custodial centres where smoking tobacco is allowed, at the Precinct it is prohibited and considered contraband due to the age of detainees.

198.Section 501 of the Children, Youth and Families Act states:

A person must not without lawful authority or excuse-

(b) deliver, or in any manner attempt to deliver, to any such person or introduce or attempt to introduce or cause to be introduced into a remand centre, youth residential centre, youth justice centre or youth justice unit—

(i)any firearm, offensive weapon or other article which is capable of being used as a weapon; or

(ii)any form of drug without the consent of the Secretary; or

(iii)any form of alcoholic liquor or beverage; or

(iv)any other article or thing not allowed by the regulations.

199.The penalty for breaching section 501 of the Children, Youth and Families Act is 15 penalty units or imprisonment for three months. Accordingly, any staff member who brings contraband into the Precinct is committing a criminal offence.

Case study 6

During the course of my investigation my officers were informed about an incident in which a staff member, Officer H allegedly brought contraband into the Justice Centre. It was alleged that Officer H allowed Detainee F to purchase cigarettes, lighters and pouches of tobacco while on day leave from the Justice Centre. Upon return to the Justice Centre, Officer H allegedly carried the contraband in her handbag while Detainee F was subject to an unclothed search (strip search).

In an interview with my investigators on 8 April 2010, Officer H said that Detainee F smoked during an authorised day visit during which she drove Detainee F to Ballarat. She further stated that Detainee F ‘may have purchased his own tobacco’. However Officer H maintained that she did not witness Detainee F make the purchase and did not bring contraband into the Justice

Centre for him. Officer H stated that she has previously told Detainee F:

… if he’s going to have tobacco on his leaves, to not bring it back to the Centre [Justice Centre] because it’s up to him whether at the end of the day he thinks he can get away with it, and if he gets caught there will be consequences …

Officer H admitted to allowing detainees to smoke in the Justice Centre. Specifically, she said:

… generally I don’t like them [detainees] smoking in the Centre [Justice Centre]. I’ll tell them that if they’re going to, you know, they really have to do it and they think they’re going to get away with it, to wait until people [staff] leave at 8:00 or 8:30 at night … [that way] not to blatantly have it in staff’s face.

52

 

investigation into conditions at the melbourne youth justice precinct

 

 

 

 

 

www.ombudsman.vic.gov.au

The department contracted an external contractor to investigate the alleged incident described above. The following allegations against Officer H were investigated and discussed in the contractor’s report:

You allowed a client of the MYJC [Melbourne Youth Justice Centre] to purchase or obtain prohibited items while on escorted leave.

You assisted client/s conceal [sic] contraband and permitted it to be introduced into MYJC.

You directly provided contraband to a client within MYJC.

You permitted a client or clients to smoke cigarette/s within MYJC.

In relation to the above allegations, the investigation report, dated 2 July 2010 concluded:

After interviewing 9 staff members and 5 clients, we formed the impression that on the balance of probabilities, there was consistent evidence that [Officer H] was involved in activities that would constitute ‘serious misconduct’ as alleged. We believe that there was sufficient evidence to substantiate each of the four particulars forming the allegation.

I asked what action that department had taken in relation to the employment of Officer H. The Human Resources Manager informed my office that the allegations against Officer H were

‘partially substantiated’ contrary to the conclusions detailed in the report that the allegations were substantiated. On 5 August 2010, the Human Resources Manager advised that the department has not finalised disciplinary action against Officer H because her union representative is on leave.

200.Senior staff informed my officers that there is opportunity for contraband to be introduced into the Precinct because staff bring large bags into work that are not inspected. When asked why there is no inspection regime applied to bags brought into the Precinct by officers,

Senior managers advised my investigators that there is no policy or legislative basis which allows for officer’s belongings to be checked.

201.It is apparent that the department’s response to allegations of staff introducing contraband into the Precinct is inadequate. For example, a senior officer provided my office with a summary of incidents and allegations brought to her attention. One of the allegations related to a staff member allegedly smoking marijuana in the courtyard with detainees and providing detainees with tobacco for $20.00 per pouch. The senior officer stated that at the time the allegation was made, a number of lighters were found in the courtyard, however the department did not investigate the allegation. The senior officer was unable to provide my investigators with an explanation as to why an investigation did not proceed but stated that similar allegations have been made in relation to staff selling pouches of tobacco to detainees, yet these were also not investigated.

Failure to meet duty of care and safety provisions during night shift

202.A number of witnesses, including senior staff, alleged that some night staff sleep during their shifts or unlock the door to detainees’ bedrooms, allowing detainees into common areas at night.

203.An Operations Manager informed my investigators that on 19 May 2010, the same night on which six detainees escaped from the Eastern Hill unit, a staff member was caught sleeping in a Remand unit.

allegations of improper conduct 53

 

www.ombudsman.vic.gov.au

204.The unit rosters examined by my officers show that one staff member is assigned to each unit at nights in the Justice Centre. A night supervisor is also rostered to monitor activity in the units, however the supervisor moves between units and is therefore not available to oversee each unit at all times.

205.My officers were also informed that a number of staff who work night shift are believed to have secondary employment outside of the Precinct. It would appear that the department has not ensured that staff have sought approval for secondary employment through formal departmental processes. An Operations Manager provided my office with a list of eleven staff whom he believed had additional employment outside of the Precinct. Of these eleven staff, two are employed at the Precinct as Coordinators, one as a supervisor and one was an Acting Coordinator for a substantial period during 2009. Six of the eleven staff are

also rostered for night shifts at the Precinct. I note that departmental policy titled Outside Employment states that:

Approval must ensure the pattern of outside employment is not detrimental to an employee’s efficiency and work performance. The combined average fortnightly hours between the departmental role and the outside employment should not be excessive.

206.My officers requested departmental records of staff who had officially applied for secondary employment approval. In response, the department provided copies of two applications requesting approval to engage in outside employment while still being employed by the department. The applicants’ names did not match any of the eleven names provided to my office by the senior departmental officer.

207.Ensuring staff adequately perform their duties during night shifts, in my view, not only relates to compliance with secondary employment policies but also supervision of staff. My officers were advised by the Chief Executive Officer that regular, unannounced visits of all units in the Precinct during night shifts had not been conducted by senior staff prior to the detainees’ escape.

208.The absence of CCTV across the Precinct has also hampered the department’s capacity to monitor staff conduct on night shift. For example, my office received allegations that Officer

X, a staff member who works night shifts in the Eastern Hill unit unlocks detainees’ bedroom doors and allows detainees to enter common areas at night. Section 5.4 of the Operations Manual states that during lockdown over night it is unacceptable for staff to:

Enter(ing) an occupied bedroom alone at nighttime [sic], unless in response to an emergency.

209.The Unit Manager was aware of the allegation against Officer X. Approximately 14 weeks prior to the escape of six detainees, the Unit Manager directed Officer X to stop unlocking doors to detainees’ bedrooms at night. The department was not able to monitor Officer X due to the absence of CCTV, nor were regular checks of the Eastern Hill unit conducted during

Officer X’s shifts.

210.On 19 May 2010 at approximately 9.50pm, six detainees escaped from the Eastern Hill unit.

During this time, Officer X was the only unit officer rostered on duty in Eastern Hill.

54

 

investigation into conditions at the melbourne youth justice precinct

 

 

 

 

 

www.ombudsman.vic.gov.au

211.In response to my concerns regarding staff supervision the department advised:

New measures are now in place to strengthen the monitoring capacity of senior managers. These measures include introducing CCTV at PYJP [Parkville Youth Justice Precinct], appointing a Night Manager at PYJP to provide additional supervision of night staff, instituting regular unannounced visits by the CEO at night, increasing management presence on units, providing monthly OH&S and condition reports of each unit to the CEO and Director of YJCS [Youth Justice Custodial Services], and introducing monthly compliance reports. These

measures will provide evidence to determine the veracity of any allegations of staff misconduct in a timely manner in future.

212.In addition, the department commissioned Mr Neil Comrie AO to undertake a review of the escape incident. The department advised that Mr Comrie:

… found that the escape occurred as a result of a staff member’s failure to follow existing security procedures, and identified eight areas for action, focusing largely on security, infrastructure and compliance.

The Government has acted in these areas, and committed $16.6 million over four years to implement its response, establishing a new taskforce to oversee the implementation of a security upgrade, rollout of training programs, and refinements to procedures at the Centre. The taskforce will also consider any longer-term issues arising from the report, including capacity and suitability of the buildings at the Centre.

Financial impropriety

213.A number of allegations which current and former staff raised throughout the course of my investigation related to the misuse of public funds. In particular, allegations were made that staff have:

claimed money for shifts they do not attend

stolen goods from storage

processed uniform allowance claims in excess of the actual amount that was spent.

Falsification of records

214.Concerns were raised by the whistleblower and senior management during interview regarding allegations that staff leave work early or fail to attend shifts and claim work time on their time sheet.

215.When staff attend a shift at the Precinct they enter the building using swipe card access and also use keys which are collected at the beginning of each shift and returned at the conclusion of each shift. Each staff member is responsible for collecting and returning their keys. Despite the allegations regarding the falsification of shift records and the potential for the department to collect and analyse evidence such as swipe card access, key usage and

CCTV located at the main exit door, my officers were advised that formal investigations resulting in disciplinary action against staff had not been undertaken. The following case study, while not an example of staff seeking payment for a shift not worked, brings into question the department’s response to concerns regarding the falsification of records and conduct of a Unit Supervisor.

allegations of improper conduct 55

 

www.ombudsman.vic.gov.au

Case study 7

It was alleged that records relating to Officer Y’s attendance at work on Saturday 8 August 2009 were falsified. It was further alleged that the Unit Supervisor in Remand North returned Officer

Y’s keys at the conclusion of this shift.

Officer Y’s timesheet states that he was on sick leave for the day of 8 August 2009, however the Remand North Communications Book shows that Officer Y’s name had been signed in as attending work that day.

My officers reviewed swipe card access records and records of staff keys. The department’s records show that on 8 August 2009 the Unit Supervisor was at work using his swipe access to enter various security doors. There is no swipe card record of Officer Y working on this day. Despite this, the Unit Supervisor returned Officer Y’s keys at 10.12pm. He also returned keys for three other staff members at the same time. Swipe card access for these three members of staff ceased by 8.04pm.

I understand that the department was aware of ‘dummy shifts’ occurring in Remand North, allegations of which relate to other dates in addition to the 8 August 2009. A Unit Manager informed my officers that she had spoken to the Unit Supervisor about the allegations. However, the department did not proceed with any disciplinary action against the staff members involved or thoroughly examine the evidence available to it.

Theft from stores

216.It was alleged that staff stole goods from storage rooms and cupboards in the Precinct. An Operations Manager stated that she was aware of the thefts from storage because:

You have a good stock of coffee cans and the next thing you know when you go to get a coffee, there’s none in the store room …

217.Staff informed my officers that stealing of a range of items occurs in every unit across the Precinct. Aunit floor worker said that staff steal:

… anything from like a loaf of bread to a bag of sugar … coffee, milo … I’ve heard from other staff in other units … that they’ll order 10 boxes [of washing powder] and within a day there’s one left and they know that the clients obviously aren’t using 10 boxes of washing powder. Someone told me they even put a little hole in one and

emptied it and filled it back up with sugar so that somebody would take sugar home.

218.Senior staff advised my officers that they are aware of staff theft, but do not have the available mechanisms, such as CCTV to monitor storage and determine which staff are responsible for thefts. It is also apparent that senior staff at the Precinct do not consider the record system for the purchasing, storage and usage of goods and consumables to be sufficient or to accurately reflect the movement of items. This is illustrated by the following email dated 6 February 2010 to Precinct staff from a Unit Coordinator:

Our food orders/consumables are checked every Friday before being stored as out imprest is done. Yet when staff access these items or condiments, they appear to be lacking or missing from the storage areas, subsequently we are having to replace these items with items purchased from the supermarket and other outlets. May I add, at a significant cost to some of us.

56

 

investigation into conditions at the melbourne youth justice precinct

 

 

 

 

 

www.ombudsman.vic.gov.au

One of many things needs to occur, they are monitor and check off all items with a logistics system that calibrates quantity and movement, which will in turn send an urgent message to the stores that we are running low on that particular commodity, install surveillance devices to monitor the usage of store items, record access etc, communicate with each other and advise if we need items from the stores …

Uniform allowance claim

219.In October 2009 I received a further disclosure that a Unit Manager made fraudulent claims in staff clothing allowances. It was further alleged that an employee of the accounts department was aware of the fraudulent claims.

220.As Precinct staff are not required to wear a uniform to work, the department allows full-time staff to individually claim a maximum of $500 on work clothes per annum where proof of purchase can be provided. The disclosure provided evidence which suggested that the Unit

Manager had processed a claim above the claimed amount. Specifically, the claim was for $272.95 and the staff member was reimbursed for $401.23.

221.I referred the matter to the department for investigation and requested that I be provided with an investigation report. The department subsequently contracted an external provider to conduct the investigation. The contractor’s report dated 25 March 2010 states that the

Chief Executive Officer at the time had said:

It is my view that receipts were ‘trafficable’ items. I have no doubt that staff swapped or gave receipts to each other. It was open to rorting, but we did not demand production of the clothing item to compare against the receipt.

It would not surprise me if the unit managers or administration girls would say to people who would for example had a $410 claim, they be told ‘you know you can claim $500’ …

222.As part of its investigation, the contractor identified:

two instances in which supporting documentation could not be found for claims

photocopies of supporting documentation such as receipts which were classified as unclear or illegible

claims by male staff which included receipts for female-only clothing stores.

223.The report concluded that the following allegations were substantiated and should be considered by the department when making its own determination:

staff at the Justice Centre have lodged fraudulent claims for clothing allowances

The Unit Manager reimbursed an additional $128.28 on top of a $272.95 claim, without the claimant’s knowledge.

224.The department advised my office that a discipline investigation will proceed in relation to the conduct of the Unit Manager. Further enquiries are also being undertaken by the department to determine the course of action, if any, against other staff who may have engaged in fraudulent activity.

allegations of improper conduct 57

 

www.ombudsman.vic.gov.au

225.In a letter dated 31 May 2010, I wrote to the Secretary and stated:

In relation to the first allegation, that staff had made fraudulent claims, this has been substantiated yet I note your recommendation in this regard is that ‘the extent of staff responsibility needs to be established before deciding if further action against individual staff is required’.

From the … report, I note there is evidence of a further 14 suspected fraudulent claims yet it appears that the investigation parameters for [the report] were not reassessed as further evidence was obtained.

While I consider it would have been appropriate to broaden the investigation of the disclosure, I would appreciate your advice as to the progress of the department in each of these matters.

226.In response, the Secretary advised that an investigation is being conducted to establish the extent of staff culpability in submitting false claims. I have requested that the department provide a report to my office as to the outcome of this investigation upon completion.

227.The Secretary has also advised that the department is in the process of introducing uniforms at the Precinct in place of the annual clothing allowance.

228.In response to issues in this report regarding fraudulent uniform allowance claims the department said:

The obligation of staff to provide valid receipts has been reinforced and this process is now subject to auditing. As uniforms will be provided to staff prior to the next financial year, clothing allowance claims will no longer be required.

Policy basis for disciplinary and staff conduct related investigations

229.The Acting Director of Youth Justice Custodial Services informed my office that for the period 1 January 2008 to 30 April 2010 the department has spent $130,211 on external investigators for investigations or reviews regarding staff discipline or breach of practice in the Precinct and Malmsbury Youth Justice Centre.

230.When my investigators requested copies of departmental policies which are relied upon for investigations into staff conduct or disciplinary matters, my officers were provided with policies/documents titled:

VPS Discipline transitional arrangements July 2009: Managing Discipline policy (VPS): Unsatisfactory work performance and misconduct Procedure A (annotated) (April 2006)

VPS Discipline transitional arrangements July 2009: Managing discipline (VPS): Interim policy (annotated) (December 2005)

2009 Extended and varied Version: Victorian Public Service Agreement 2006

Manager’s guide: The extended and varied Victorian Public Service Agreement 2006.

231.The first two documents in the above list were provided to my office in April 2010 as part of the department’s existing policy framework which informs investigations into staff conduct. However, I note that the documents state that the policies were to only stay in place until March 2010 at which point new policies were to be drafted.

58

 

investigation into conditions at the melbourne youth justice precinct

 

 

 

 

 

www.ombudsman.vic.gov.au

232.The departmental policies appear to interpret the application of the VPS Agreement but do not provide direction on how to conduct investigations in relation to planning, avenues of enquiry, terms of reference and procedures. More specifically, the policies do not detail:

how to prepare an investigation plan

various investigative strategies which may be considered (for example, consideration of timelines and legislative or policy provisions which are alleged/suspected to have been breached)

the types of evidentiary sources (for example: oral, documentary, expert evidence or site inspection)

the level of evidence necessary to substantiate an allegation (for example, civil or criminal standard of proof)

how to conduct a risk assessment (for example, consideration of Whistleblowers, possibility of collusion by detainees or staff, or destruction of documents)

whether staff are compelled to attend interviews and the legislative provisions governing this

who is responsible for directing and finalising the investigation as well as implementing any recommendations made as a result of the investigation.

233.Investigators are also not provided with a policy which provides a basis for the scope of their investigation. The only direction which investigators receive is from the Human Resources (HR) Branch which has the primary role of:

… ensure[ing] the necessary services, processes and policies are in place to enable employees to perform at their best, be safe and satisfied with their work and be appropriately developed.

Conclusions

234.It is concerning that many allegations and suspicions regarding staff conduct at the Precinct have not been investigated or appropriately addressed by the department. Evidence I obtained throughout my investigation indicated that senior staff were often aware of the allegations of improper conduct, but subsequent action taken by the department was inadequate, or at times, inappropriate. The department has stated that it is not the case that senior managers were aware of issues and did nothing to respond. However, this not borne out by the information that was obtained in the course of this investigation.

235.The department’s failure to address improper conduct, particularly conduct which impacts on the health and safety of detainees, contravenes the department’s statutory obligations and human rights provisions. This shortcoming is compounded, in several instances, by its failure to take decisive action when these issues have come to light.

236.I consider that the department’s duty of care extends to its minimising the opportunity for improper conduct to occur and conducting thorough and timely investigations where the conduct of staff is questionable. In some instances, the department was aware of serious allegations against staff but failed to commence an investigation. At other times, an investigation was conducted but the outcome was excessively delayed or limited by the department’s:

failure to consider obvious avenues of enquiry which were not considered during the investigation

allegations of improper conduct 59

 

www.ombudsman.vic.gov.au

failure to take into account all available evidence

absence of CCTV in the Precinct

delay in investigations due to police involvement, contrary to policy

lack of clear policy and procedure to guide investigations.

237.I further consider that the department has failed to establish an environment which aims to prevent the occurrence of improper conduct by staff. For example, the department has:

not updated key policy documents

not implemented CCTV as a deterrent measure in all units despite it being common practice in adult correctional facilities as a monitoring and deterrence tool to enhance the safety of prisoners and aid in the collection of evidence in the event of a critical incident

not sought legal advice or developed policy which provides for the searching of staff bags

not monitored night staff through random checks

insufficient or non-existent mechanisms for the monitoring of uniform allowance claims, shift records or the use of items from stores.

238.The department’s inadequate response to improper conduct which directly affects the wellbeing of detainees is incompatible with the Charter of Human Rights. Section 17(2) of the Charter of Human Rights discusses the right of every child to be protected ‘as is in his or her best interests’. Section 22(1) of the Charter of Human Rights also refers to the humane treatment of persons deprived of their liberty. In my view, the department has

not sufficiently responded to potential breaches of these provisions by its staff, particularly where allegations or suspicions are raised regarding staff:

allowing contraband to be introduced into the Precinct

bringing contraband into the Precinct

inciting violence between detainees

assaulting detainees

using excessive force while restraining detainees.

239.I consider that independent and regular oversight of the Precinct is necessary. Unlike the adult prison system, the Precinct is not subject to inspections by Official Visitors nor is there a central oversight body such as the Office of Correctional Services Review as available for the Victorian prison system.

240.The lack of external scrutiny of the Precinct is compounded by responsibility for the conduct of discipline investigations being allocated to the department’s Human Resources Manager.

In my view this allocation of responsibility does not reflect the complexities associated with performing high quality investigations. The conduct of investigations, whether conducted by departmental staff or external contractors, should be overseen by a senior officer with specialist investigative skills and experience.

60

 

investigation into conditions at the melbourne youth justice precinct

 

 

 

 

 

www.ombudsman.vic.gov.au

241.In addition to improving the youth justice system’s internal investigations capacity, it is my view that the youth justice system should be subject to, at least, the same degree of external oversight as the adult correctional system.

242.In response to my concerns the department has advised that it ‘intends to increase external scrutiny’ through various mechanisms previously referred to in this report.

243.The department has also stated that it ‘does not tolerate inappropriate staff conduct’ and that:

Internal departmental discussions are underway to ensure alignment of practices within the centres with departmental policy, and to identify improved options for recruitment and building relevant capabilities.

The department has instituted a new system whereby serious or complex disciplinary matters will be overseen by senior executives.

… It should be noted that future misconduct investigations will be informed by access to CCTV footage, which will assist in their efficient resolution.

Recommendations

I recommend that the department:

Recommendation 7

Install CCTV in all common areas of units throughout the Precinct, program areas and recreational areas as a priority.

The department’s response

Accepted – CCTV is being installed to improve security and safety within the Centres.

Recommendation 8

Review the current model and policy process used to investigate allegations or suspicions of staff misconduct.

The department’s response

Accepted – The department has established a new administrative oversight process to ensure specialist input occurs in relation to complex staff misconduct allegations and to expedite the finalisation of complex disciplinary matters. The department will provide guidance notes to investigators to clearly outline the department’s expectations of investigations.

allegations of improper conduct 61

 

www.ombudsman.vic.gov.au

Recommendation 9

Clarify the department’s role in conducting investigations where police are involved, and provide senior staff with training on this issue.

The department’s response

Accepted – the department’s recently established administrative oversight process for complex staff misconduct allegations (where police may be involved) will ensure specialist input occurs, that investigations are not delayed unnecessarily and that matters are dealt with in accordance with departmental policy.

Recommendation 10

Review departmental policy in relation to restraints and ensure that staff training is consistent.

The department’s response

Accepted – Enhanced restraint training is commencing in September 2010.

Recommendation 11

Seek legal advice on the department’s ability to search employees’ bags before and after a shift and develop a policy in light of this advice.

The department’s response

Accepted – The department has advice confirming the ability to search employees’ bags before and after a shift and will develop a relevant policy for inclusion in the updated Operations Manual.

Recommendation 12

Update the department’s Operations Manual to ensure that it refers to correct legislative and policy provisions.

The department’s response

Accepted – The department has begun the process of updating the Operations Manual. This process will be completed by June 2011.

Recommendation 13

Implement the practice of random, night checks to be regularly conducted across all units in the Precinct by the Operations Managers, Chief Executive Officer or nominated persons.

The department’s response

Accepted – Since June 2010, the CEO and the A/Director, YJCS [Youth Justice Custodial Services] have conducted a number of unannounced night-checks. In addition, a night supervisor has been appointed to oversee the centre to 11.00pm, to provide additional supervision of night staff and to conduct night inspections.

62

 

investigation into conditions at the melbourne youth justice precinct

 

 

 

 

 

www.ombudsman.vic.gov.au

Recommendation 14

Ensure all staff are familiar with their obligation to seek formal approval for secondary employment. Where management is aware of staff engaging in secondary employment, ensure that departmental processes are adhered to.

The department’s response

Accepted – All YJCS staff have been reminded of departmental policy, including their obligation to seek formal approval for secondary employment and potential performance management or discipline outcomes if they do not disclose outside employment and obtain appropriate approval.

Staff will be reminded via email annually to declare any outside employment. New casual staff will be given outside employment application forms upon appointment.

Departmental processes will be adhered to when responding to applications for secondary employment.

Records regarding secondary employment will be updated and maintained.

Recommendation 15

Conduct regular audits of records relating to the purchasing, storage and use of goods and consumables in the Precinct.

The department’s response

Accepted – An audit process is in place within the site stores, which will be expanded to include unit stores.

Recommendation 16

Update and finalise departmental policies in relation to conduct and disciplinary matters.

The department’s response

Accepted – These will be reviewed as part of the usual policy development process.

allegations of improper conduct 63

 

www.ombudsman.vic.gov.au

5. QUALITY OF CARE

244.The needs of detainees are often complex and improving their social, educational and individual circumstances is relevant to their rehabilitation and position as a contributing member of society. The department’s Operations Manual acknowledges that a detainee’s experience while in custody plays a significant role in their rehabilitation and reintegration into the community.

245.In comparison to the general population of young people, statistics on the characteristics and background of young offenders are instructive. A study by the Australian Institute of Criminology11 concluded that 46 per cent of youths detained in centres across Australia reported experiencing either neglect, emotional or physical abuse. Of these three types of maltreatment, physical abuse was the most common (36 per cent). In addition, the neglect and abuse was most commonly perpetrated by a parent, guardian or sibling.

246.A survey conducted by the department in 200812 identified a number of factors that place young offenders at disadvantage, including:

46 per cent had current or previous child protection involvement

66 per cent had been suspended or expelled from school

24 per cent presented with mental health issues

33 per cent had a history of self-harm or suicidal ideation

16 per cent presented with issues concerning their intellectual functioning

85 per cent were alcohol users

86 per cent were drug users

offending was related to alcohol or drug use in 92 per cent of cases.13

Education and programs for detainees

247.Accessible education is recognised as a basic human right by state, federal and international policies and provisions. Article 28 (1) (a), (d) and (e) of the United Nations Convention on the

Rights of the Child (the Convention), ratified by Australia in 1990, states:

1. States Parties recognize the right of the child to education, and with a view to achieving this right progressively and on the basis of equal opportunity, they shall, in particular:

(a) Make primary education compulsory and available free to all;

(d)Make educational and vocational information and guidance available and accessible to all children;

(e)Take measures to encourage regular attendance at schools and the reduction of drop-out rates.

11Australian Institute of Criminology, Experiences of neglect and abuse amongst juvenile detainees, Crime Facts Info, No. 118, 14 March 2006.

12Youth Parole Board and Youth Residential Board, Annual Report 2008-2009.

13Ibid, page 11.

64

 

investigation into conditions at the melbourne youth justice precinct

 

 

 

 

 

www.ombudsman.vic.gov.au

248.Article 29 (1)(a) of the Convention states:

1.States Parties agree that the education of the child shall be directed to:

(a) The development of the child’s personality, talents and mental and physical abilities to their fullest potential.

249.The department’s Operations Manual refers to section 252(2)(a) of the Children and Young Persons Act 1989 as the provision that establishes legal responsibility for the department to ensure that the needs of detainees are met while they are in custody. This legal provision is considerably outdated. The current provision is section 482(2)(a) of the Children, Youth and Families Act introduced in 2005 which states that young persons detained in custody ‘are entitled to have their developmental needs catered for’.

250.Results from a departmental survey suggest that 66 per cent of youths in custody have been suspended or expelled from school.14 The department’s Operations Manual acknowledges that detainees have often engaged in truancy and experienced periods of school exclusion which means that their basic numeracy, oral, literacy and social skills are often poor and their capacity to access employment and educational opportunities is limited.

251.The Operations Manual further explains that all programs delivered to detainees must consider the gender, age and individual needs of detainees. In addition, program activities should address education, health, recreation, spiritual, cultural and interest-based needs. The department’s Operations Manual also states:

Centres will help clients start or continue education, pre-employment programs or employment, and encourage them to maximise their educational and training opportunities.

252.The staff or contracted program staff deliver recreational programs at the Precinct. Training or educational programs are generally provided by the Kangan Institute or the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development (DEECD). A coordinator for TAFE and DEECD programs is responsible for timetabling and implementing programs.

253.In an email dated 4 August 2010, the Custodial Client Service Manager from Youth Justice advised my officers that programs delivered by the Kangan Institute are:

funded for Student Contact Hours (SCH) by Skills Victoria to provide educational and vocational training to youth justice custodial centres. However Skills Victoria funding is not clearly identified within the TAFE budgets as being for youth justice.

The funding does not include educational programs for Remand …

254.During site visits on weekdays my officers rarely observed detainees outside undertaking recreational program activities. Detainees were usually seen in the units sitting, talking or watching television. One staff member said this is because staff ‘can’t be bothered’ facilitating programs and because there is a limited number of staff on the unit floor.Awitness commented:

there’s never enough TAFE programs. Staff aren’t willing to provide in-house

programs to the clients [detainees] … they [staff] sit there for 12 hours, [and then] they go home. They [staff] don’t actually think that it’s a requirement of them to do programs or even just sit in and interact with clients … even staff say ’we’re just here to baby-sit’.

14 Ibid, page 11.

quality of care 65

 

www.ombudsman.vic.gov.au

255.Departmental data shows that on average, four detainees attend each TAFE session in the Justice Centre. A senior manager commented that ‘not every young person gets the opportunity to participate in TAFE all day’.

256.On 22 July 2010, my office requested data from the Acting Director of Youth Justice Custodial

Services regarding the average number of hours each detainee attends TAFE per day. On 4

August 2010, the Custodial Client Service Manager advised my officers that the department does not collect statistics for individual detainees and therefore cannot calculate the average amount of time detainees spend in TAFE programs per day.

257.In response to my concerns regarding access to TAFE programs, the department advised:

Significant progress has been made to develop a new funding and service delivery model for provision of TAFE vocational and education programs for detainees

in YJCS [Youth Justice Custodial Services]. This is currently being considered. In addition, a comprehensive evaluation of all Youth Justice Custodial Services programs commenced in July 2010 to determine the effectiveness of current programs, identify detainee needs and any service gaps.

Capacity to care for detainees with mental health issues

258.The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare’s (AIHW) report on young people’s health and wellbeing15 identified that mental disorders account for almost 50 per cent of total disease amongst young people.

259.Research has found that the mental health status of young offenders is typically poor, with youth detainees presenting with psychological disorders, substance addiction and self- harming behaviours.16 Thus, the adequacy of responses to detainees’ mental health is a particularly important matter in a custodial environment.

260.In the event that a detainee requires hospitalisation via involuntary inpatient psychiatric services, they can be transferred to a hospital in accordance with the Mental Health Act 1986. Detainees who request voluntary treatment can be granted temporary leave by the Secretary pursuant to section 485(1)(e) of the Children, Youth and Families Act.

261.When an adult is sentenced to imprisonment and presents with significant psychiatric problems, a judge or magistrate is given the option of ordering the detention of the person at Thomas Embling Hospital. This facility is operated by mental health professionals for offenders who are mentally ill.

262.There is no comparable facility for young offenders who are mentally ill and sentenced to detainment. There is also no facility or unit available in Victoria specific for youth detainees who develop significant mental health concerns while in custody.

15Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Young Australians: Their Health and Wellbeing, 2007, cat. no. PHE 87. Canberra: AIHW.

16Allerton M & Champion U. NSW young people in custody health survey. Sydney: NSW. Department of Juvenile Justice, 2003.

66

 

investigation into conditions at the melbourne youth justice precinct

 

 

 

 

 

www.ombudsman.vic.gov.au

263.The Drugs and Crime Prevention Committee’s (the Committee) Inquiry into Strategies to Prevent High Volume Offending and Recidivism by Young People were informed about this issue.17 Respondents who provided evidence to the Committee commented on the poor quality of treatment options for young offenders with mental health issues. It was suggested that a specialised forensic treatment centre be built. Dr Pat Brown of the Children’s Court

Clinic in Victoria provided her opinion to the Committee, stating that a contained therapeutic facility for young offenders is necessary.

264.In a statement to the Committee, Dr Carl Scuderi, Senior Clinician at the Children’s Court Clinic of Victoria similarly commented that:

… many children continue to offend and to provide enormous drains on resources because the severity of their psychological and social disturbances are not well understood by professionals – that is, the ones that are working with them, who are not often very well trained, or not adequately trained, say, to deal with these most troubled children.18

265.While the Adolescent Forensic Health Service (AFHS) is situated on-site at the Precinct, it does not oversee the wellbeing of young people on a 24 hour a day basis. The AFHS is a program delivered through the Centre for Adolescent Health at the Royal Children’s

Hospital, Melbourne. It is funded by the department and was established to provide health care to young persons who are involved in the youth justice system.19 Services are delivered through AFHS at the Precinct during the day, however AFHS staff are not located on-site at night.

266.A unit staff member reported that many detainees, particularly those on remand, who present with mental health problems associated with drug addictions, are not provided with enough support.

267.The following case study relates:

Case study 8

During the course of my investigation I became aware of an incident in which Detainee G, an Indigenous detainee, aged 17 attempted suicide. The department’s incident report states that on the 6 April 2010 Detainee G self-harmed by cutting himself with a ‘blade’ and was subsequently placed on constant observation by staff in the Eastern Hill unit. Detainee H, the detainee whom Detainee G was sharing a bedroom with, was greatly concerned about his friend’s condition and frequently looked out the observation window at night to ensure that a staff member

was present in case a critical incident occurred. At approximately 3:00am on 7 April Detainee G attempted to hang himself with a sheet which he tied around the basin in the bathroom. Detainee H ran to the observation window of the bedroom to seek assistance from the staff member assigned to constant observation. The staff member was not in his seat. Detainee H continued to call for assistance and removed the sheet from his friend’s neck. The department’s incident report states that staff failed to attend.

17Drugs and Crime Prevention Committee, Inquiry into Strategies to Prevent High Volume Offending and Recidivism by Young People, DPCD, Parliament of Victoria, July 2009.

18Ibid, page 275.

19Adolescent Forensic Health Service, website available at < http://www.rch.org.au/afhs>.

quality of care 67

 

www.ombudsman.vic.gov.au

The department contracted an external agency to undertake an investigation into the incident. The investigation report stated the following:

As a result of interviews of relevant staff it became apparent that no member of staff was in a position to observe the incident, assuming that it occurred … The investigation revealed that the instruction and supervision of staff was seemingly deemed unnecessary before the commencement of ‘Constant observation’ of the client [Detainee G] … There was also no

search of the relevant room despite the fact that the reasons for the initiation of the observation was a self inflicted superficial cut with a pencil sharpener blade.

The report concluded that although the staff member was assigned to conduct constant observations of Detainee G, he was not informed by senior staff as to the obligations of that duty.

My officers queried whether Detainee H was provided with counselling, having witnessed the attempted suicide of his friend. A staff member said that Detainee H has been released from custody because his sentence has since ended. He was not provided with counselling before or after his release.

My officers were also informed that Detainee G was being bullied by other detainees and staff at the time. Detainee G remains in custody but has been transferred to another unit.

268.Section 4.21 of the department’s Operations Manual, titled Self-harm and suicide risk management states that ‘staff have a duty of care to act reasonably to prevent or avoid injury or harm’ to detainees in the event of a self-harm incident or attempted suicide. The senior staff member on duty at the time is to be notified in the event of such an incident and the senior staff member must fulfil a number of duties, including:

remove other clients from the scene of the incident

arrange for hospital treatment if required

ensure the client is placed on constant observation

if an incident occurs in a bedroom which is shared with another client, remove the other client from the scene and arrange for appropriate support and counselling

notify the CEO, or operations manager or on call manager after hours

notify the health team (if not already notified)

consider placing other clients who are distressed on observations

arrange appropriate defusing, debriefing and support for staff.

269.A number of these procedures were not adhered to by the department following the attempted suicide described in case study 8.

270.Staff at various levels of seniority told by investigators that procedures are not being adhered to across the Precinct when a detainee is placed under observation. Section 4.21 of the department’s Operations Manual states:

A newly admitted detainee must be placed on random observations by staff. The minimum observation intervals should be three per half hour. This should continue until the detainee is assessed by the health team, a locum doctor or psychiatrist.

68

 

investigation into conditions at the melbourne youth justice precinct

 

 

 

 

 

www.ombudsman.vic.gov.au

If a detainee is identified as a suicide risk upon admission, he/she should be placed on close observation (every four minutes) until assessed by a health professional.

Where a suicide risk arises during or after a detainee’s admission, the detainee should be placed in observation, following procedures in section 6.13 of the Operations Manual – Reactive strategies – observation.

To communicate and record the status and monitoring of suicidal detainees, staff must use handover procedures, the communications book located in each unit, the observation register and the isolation register.

271.A unit staff member stated that the records that are to be completed when a detainee is under observation are often not filled-out. Another staff member stated that records for observations are not completed progressively throughout the day as observations occur. Rather, records are completed at the end of a shift.

272.The department’s Operations Manual states that ‘frontline staff are the key in identifying problems’ in relation to suicide risks. During interviews ‘frontline’ staff stated that their training and professional background was not adequate to deal with detainees who had significant mental health conditions, particularly when a detainee is suicidal. Staff agreed that a purpose built facility which employed professionals to meet the needs of detainees with significant mental health conditions may be necessary.

273.My officers were advised that while a Certificate IV in Youth Work/Justice is desirable for new employees, it is not mandatory. Some staff stated that further qualifications beyond a Certificate IV are necessary. AUnit Coordinator said:

We expect people [staff] to write reports to the Youth Parole Board … yet they might have been a plumber for the last 30 years – and we need people like that because they … [have] life skills and experiences but how do you actually get them to … know how to write a report? … that group of people that we’re … talking about are the ones that struggle, can’t write reports, can’t actually intervene therapeutically. It’s all ‘we’ll restrain and isolate’ …

Conclusions

274.The Children, Youth and Families Act places the responsibility for ensuring that the complex developmental needs of detainees are met by the department. However, the department has not provided all detainees with the opportunity to participate in TAFE for standard

schooling hours. This is unsatisfactory given the potential impact this may have on detainees’ rehabilitation and capacity to positively contribute to society upon their release.

275.The department has informed my office that there are financial constraints associated with its ability to provide programs for detainees. However, the department does not collect data on the average amount of time that detainees spend in programs each day. This limits the department’s ability to properly plan for the delivery of programs that meet the developmental needs of detainees.

276.Research demonstrates the high prevalence of mental health conditions among young people generally and the particularly high occurrence of mental disorders among young offenders. It is therefore important that the youth justice system is well positioned to identify and respond to detainees who require specialist mental health intervention and support.

quality of care 69

 

www.ombudsman.vic.gov.au

277.Unlike the adult correctional system, dedicated secure inpatient beds are not available to detainees in the youth justice system. The support provided on-site at the Precinct is limited in terms of the hours of coverage. The Precinct is clearly struggling to adequately meet the needs of children who are seriously mentally ill. This is particularly concerning given the general unsafe conditions within the Precinct that I have referred to previously.

278.Failure to ensure that adequate support is available for mentally ill detainees is also incompatible with the department’s Charter of Human Rights responsibility to provide each child in its custody with ‘such protection as is in his or her best interests’.

Recommendations

I recommend that the department:

Recommendation 17

Review its current training program schedule for all sentenced units within the Precinct, with a view to ensuring that all detainees are engaged in programs during school hours on week days.

The department’s response

Accepted – A revised funding and service delivery model for provision of TAFE vocational and education programs for detainees in YJCS [Youth Justice Custodial Services] is currently being considered.

In addition, a comprehensive evaluation of all Youth Justice Custodial Services programs commenced in July 2010 to determine the effectiveness of current programs, identify detainee needs and any service gaps.

Recommendation 18

Ensure that detainees who are on remand for extended periods are not omitted from programs.

The department’s response

Accepted - Detainees on remand for extended periods participate in general educational and recreational programs. As they have not been found guilty of an offence, it would be inappropriate to provide them with offence-specific programs.

Recommendation 19

Collect data on the number of hours each detainee attends programs during weekdays.

The department’s response

Accepted – Program attendance records are maintained by the TAFE, however they are only provided to the Client Services Manager on a quarterly basis. To monitor the participation of individual detainees in programs, these records will now be collated and compared against individual detainee records.

An Electronic Timetable system will be implemented in 2011 to more effectively monitor individual detainee participation in activities and programs.

70

 

investigation into conditions at the melbourne youth justice precinct

 

 

 

 

 

www.ombudsman.vic.gov.au

Recommendation 20

Review employment conditions at the Precinct with a view to introducing a Certificate IV in

Youth Work/Justice as mandatory for employment at the Precinct.

The department’s response

Accepted (in principle) – An accredited training program will be developed and rolled out across YJCS. Mandatory modules will be included as part of the induction program, rather than mandatory qualifications. Additional funding has been committed for implementation.

This option is preferable to mandatory training, as it upskills [sic] both current and new employees with skills and knowledge specific to working in a custodial environment.

Recommendation 21

Consider a professional multi-disciplinary approach to recruitment wherein persons from various backgrounds including nursing, psychology, psychiatry, child protection and disability services are employed.

The department’s response

Accepted – Since July 2010, Unit Health Coordinators (nurse, psychologist, social worker or occupational therapist) have been located at each unit to provide health services to detainees and to support and train staff in the management of detainees with health issues.

In addition, the Adolescent Forensic Health Service provides health care to detainees in custody at Parkville.

Recommendation 22

Review the adequacy of the current response to young offenders with significant mental health problems who are detained in custodial centres. This review should also consider establishing a purpose built facility operated by trained health professionals.

The department’s response

Accepted – Considerable work has been undertaken with Mental Health Services to ensure that detainees assessed by a GP or psychiatrist as having significant mental health issues are transferred to mental health inpatient units. The department funds the Adolescent Forensic Health Service (AFHS, part of the Royal Children’s Hospital) more than $3.36 million per annum to provide health services, including mental health, to young people in youth justice centres.

A new position, part of the Youth Justice Mental Health Initiative, will commence in 2010

to assist with case planning/support for complex detainees in remand and admissions who require support from mental health services.

YJCS will review the response to detainees with significant mental health issues to identify service improvements.

quality of care 71

 

www.ombudsman.vic.gov.au

6. FAILURE TO COMPLY WITH OPERATIONAL AND LEGISLATIVE PROVISIONS

279.The department’s Operations Manual for youth justice is extensive with 11 chapters in total, each of which varies from approximately 50 to 220 pages in length. The Operations Manual covers a number of topics, including: detainees’ entry into the system; case management; behavioural management; security; health; program delivery; facilities, amenities and services; human resources; and emergency procedures.

280.The Operations Manual provides information on the legislative frameworks on which the department operates and provides guidance to staff on how to deal with a number of work related issues, from administrative tasks to conduct during a critical incident.

281.The department has not updated the Operations Manual in recent years. The most recent publication of the Operations Manual is 2004. Due to this, recent legislative changes such as the Charter of Human Rights are omitted and incorrect provisions are referred to, for example the Children and Young Persons Act 1989 is cited instead of the Children, Youth and Families Act 2005.

282.Despite these oversights, the Operations Manual describes the operational procedures that staff are expected to comply with. However, evidence obtained during my investigation supports the conclusion that procedures outlined in the Operations Manual are not adhered to on a regular basis.

283.I have also identified that the department has, at times failed to comply with its statutory obligations in accordance with the Children, Youth and Families Act and the Working with Children Act 2005, as follows.

Communications book

284.A Communications Book or day book is kept in each unit and is meant to be completed on a daily basis by unit staff. The primary purpose of the Communications Book is to provide staff with an up-to-date overview of what has happened in the unit on a daily basis and to highlight any issues staff should be aware of.

285.The Operations Manual states that the Communications Book should cover:

information focused on the young person

all client and unit activities undertaken

all critical incidents, altercations and client tensions

reminders of client appointments

medication

a daily summary on the behaviour of each detainee in the unit

staffing issues

reminder of tasks that need following up

status of maintenance items requiring urgent/non urgent attention

status and dispensation of medications, such as methadone

72

 

investigation into conditions at the melbourne youth justice precinct

 

 

 

 

 

www.ombudsman.vic.gov.au

other issues, for example: outcomes of security searches, including room searches, boundary searches, unit searches and counts of cutlery (after breakfast, lunch, dinner and during night shift).

286.The importance of the Communications Book is highlighted in the Operations Manual, with reference to:

the potential for the book to be used as evidence in court

the fact that whiteout or other obscuring materials should not be used if a mistake is made in the book

the necessity for entries into the book to be legible, concise and objective.

287.The significance of the Communications Book as an evidentiary reference for investigations can be highlighted with a case example. Case study 2 detailed the alleged assault of Detainee B in the laundry of the Eastern Hill unit. According to a written statement from the Unit Supervisor on the day of the incident, he found the detainee with injuries walking in a common area within the unit at approximately 4.15pm. The investigator who was contracted by the department to investigate the incident was informed by another staff member that detainees were allegedly in ‘lockdown’ at the time of the incident and the alleged victim was placed in a bedroom with other detainees ‘in order to teach him a lesson’. The entry therefore is in conflict with the staff member’s version of events because lockdown occurs at 4.00pm to

4.30pm across the Justice Centre, meaning that the detainee should not have been walking in a common area at 4.15pm if he was locked in a bedroom. The investigation report does not include reference to an examination of the Eastern Hill Communications Book on the day

of the incident. My officers examined the Communications Book and found an entry stating that a lockdown occurred at 4.00pm on the day of the incident.

288.The accuracy of Communications Books as a reliable source is questionable. My officers were informed that compliance with procedures is at times recorded as being met in the Communications Book despite the procedure never being carried out. For example, according to unit staff, mandatory procedures such as searches are recorded in the book when the searches do not in fact occur.

289.By way of illustration, my officers undertook an analysis of the Westgate unit’s

Communication Book. For 11 days during February 2010, cutlery was not checked in accordance with the Operations Manual. The sharp kitchen utensils (i.e. knives) were not counted and/or recorded for 21 days (75 per cent of the month of February). Activities for individual detainees were not entered into the Communications Book for 18 days (64 per cent of February).

290.The way in which information was recorded was also of interest. For example, it appears that a number of entries were made at the one time rather than progressively throughout the day as activities occurred or procedures were adhered to. During interview, one witness said that entries for each shift are completed at the conclusion of the shift and the Communications Book is not checked or signed by managers.

291.While the Operations Manual states that Unit Supervisors and Unit Managers are responsible for reading and signing the Communications Book an Operations Manager conceded that this has not occurred for a long time.

failure to comply with operational and legislative provisions 73

 

www.ombudsman.vic.gov.au

Inability to account for contraband

292.In my report into contraband entering a prison20 I commented that:

A critical and integral element in an agency’s accountability and corporate governance processes is good record keeping. Without good records, whether they are manual

or electronic, audit and inspection processes are limited and investigations are made more difficult.

293.I investigated processes involving the storage, recording and transfer of contraband at the Precinct. The department’s Operations Manual contains procedures for staff regarding contraband following its seizure. According to the Operations Manual, contraband should be placed in a specified plastic evidence bag and handled by a minimum number of staff. Staff should then securely store the contraband in a safe or locked cupboard and complete the seizure register. In addition, the Operations Manual states that:

contraband must be treated carefully to ensure that it could be used as evidence in the course of any criminal investigation.

294.The Operations Manual advises the following:

A seizure register must be maintained in each juvenile justice centre.

All confiscated contraband items must be entered on the seizure register.

The seizure register must contain the following information:

a sequential number for each item

the date and time the article or substance was seized

the name of the person from whom the article or substance was seized (where known)

a description of the article seized

details of the discovery of the article or substance

the name and signature of the staff who seized the article or substance

details of disposal, that is, handing over to police (time and date details of officers) or disposal at the juvenile justice centre.

CEOs must ensure that the seizure register is audited twice a year. Any discrepancies found are to be referred to the Director, Juvenile Justice Custodial Services immediately.

295.In the event that illicit drugs or weapons are found, the Precinct is responsible for contacting Victoria Police to arrange for the collection of contraband items. The Risk Manager or Coordinator in the Justice Centre and Residential Centre are responsible for contacting police. Although it is not mentioned in section 9.5 of the Operations Manual titled ‘Contraband’, the Precinct is not authorised to retain illegal items under the Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substances Act 1981. It is therefore necessary for the Precinct to surrender illegal substances to Victoria Police.

20 Ombudsman Victoria, Investigation into contraband entering a prison and related issues, June 2008.

74

 

investigation into conditions at the melbourne youth justice precinct

 

 

 

 

 

www.ombudsman.vic.gov.au

296.In relation to items that are considered contraband in the Precinct but are not considered illegal in the general community (for example, money or cigarettes), the Risk Manager can decide whether the items should be disposed of. The Operations Manual states:

All disposal procedures must be carried out by at least two staff members.

Staff disposing of articles must record these details in the seizure register:

date and time of disposal

name and position of authorising staff

manner of disposal

names and signatures of staff carrying out the disposal.

297.During site visits, my officers examined the contraband box and contraband safe for the Justice Centre and Residential Centre. These examinations identified several shortcomings in the Precinct’s ability to follow procedure and general issues relating to the recording and preservation of contraband as evidence.

298.For example, on 1 April 2010 my officers attended the Justice Centre and found the following in the contraband safe:

nine exhibits in total, including white tablets and what appeared to be marijuana

only two exhibits were provided with a record number which corresponded with a number on the seizure register

compressed green vegetable matter which was not secured in an evidence bag or any other pouch and not attached to any identifiable information relating to when and where it was found

a ripped piece of paper detailing the date in which contraband was found, the name of the detainee who held the contraband and the staff member who found the contraband. However, this paper was not attached to a contraband item.

299.My officers also examined the safe in the Residential Centre and found the following:

19 exhibits in total, including pills, white powder and green vegetable matter

not all contraband items located in the safe were recorded in the register

substances which appeared to be illicit drugs, which had been kept in the safe and not surrendered to police since June 2006

none of the exhibits were numbered.

failure to comply with operational and legislative provisions 75

 

www.ombudsman.vic.gov.au

Photograph 15. Contraband safe.

300.Overall, the standard of storage of contraband was poor. A number of seized items, including what appeared to be illicit drugs, which were found on detainees during a search or in a detainee’s bedroom had not been provided to the police. Details on the evidence bag were also not completed, including times, dates or information about where the contraband was found (refer to photograph 16 for an example). In one instance, an evidence bag stated that the contraband was found in the ‘evidence box’.

Photograph16.Contrabanditemwithnodate,timeoridentificationnumber markedontheevidencebag.

76

 

investigation into conditions at the melbourne youth justice precinct

 

 

 

 

 

www.ombudsman.vic.gov.au

301.During interview, an officer who works on the unit floor commented about the poor practice of staff following identification of contraband. The witness recalled an incident in which:

I actually had to get an evidence bag from another unit because our unit never has proper evidence bags … a lot of the time stuff [contraband] is taken [by staff] and just put in a pigeon hole and sits there for six months … [for example] a lighter or a small amount of tobacco … a report might not be written or it might get thrown in the bin

– a lot of the time that occurs as well … people will not be able to find evidence bags so they’ll go [sic] ‘bugger it’, they tell the kid off, tell them what they’ve done wrong, throw it in the bin, tell them that they’ve written a report … but it [the report] hasn’t [been written].

302.Contraband reports, which detail all items of contraband located and seized as well as whether a corresponding incident report was created, are completed by an Operational Support worker and submitted to the Risk Management Coordinator of the Justice Centre.

My officers reviewed 10 reports which included 89 items of contraband. Of these 89:

4 were marked as having a corresponding incident report

3 were marked as not having an incident report

2 were unmarked

80 were marked with a ‘?’ in relation to whether an incident report had been completed.

303.My office raised concerns regarding the storage of contraband with an Operations Manager who has subsequently audited the contraband safes in both Centres and has met with Victoria Police. The Operations Manager has also developed a ‘continuity sheet’ and provided my office with an example. The sheet provides for specified information to be completed, including:

name of the person who found the contraband and their position

date

time

name of detainee

what the staff member did once they seized the contraband.

304.The Operations Manager advised that he has developed a new procedure involving the assignment of a corresponding number to the continuity sheet, incident report, seizure register and the contraband item. The contraband will be placed in a safe that is only accessible

to police. On 2August 2010, the Operations Manager informed my officers that existing contraband seized and stored by the Precinct has been handed over to Victoria Police.

failure to comply with operational and legislative provisions 77

 

www.ombudsman.vic.gov.au

Emergency aid pouches (safety pouches)

305.Emergency aid pouches or safety pouches are provided to staff to use in incidents where basic first aid is necessary. The Unit Supervisor is responsible for ensuring that all unit staff are carrying a complete safety pouch on their belt. In addition to unit staff, the following persons must also carry a safety pouch:

Unit Supervisors

Unit Coordinators

night staff, including the Night Senior

health staff

program staff

control staff.

306.In accordance with section 9.8 of the Operations Manual, a complete safety pouch contains the following items:

a resuscitation mask

a wound dressing

a medi-prep wipe (antiseptic cleaning wipe for wounds)

a saline bottle

rubber gloves

a CPR card

band-aids.

307.During site visits, my officers asked staff at random to show the contents of their safety pouches. A number of staff were not carrying a safety pouch and where a safety pouch was carried, it did not contain all the necessary items. I note that the Operations Manual states that staff ‘must maintain and replace contents of their own emergency aid pouch’.

308.On 6 April 2010, my officers attended the Justice Centre to examine general conditions. During this visit my officers examined the safety pouches of nine staff members, including unit workers, a Unit Coordinator and control workers. Five staff did not have a safety pouch and the remaining four carried an incomplete pouch.

309.During a previous site visit at the Precinct on 1 April 2010 my officers similarly asked staff to present their safety pouch and its contents. Acomplete safety pouch was not identified. In one instance a program worker presented a small bottle of face paint which she used to play ‘zombie games’ with the detainees. This was the only item in her safety pouch.

78

 

investigation into conditions at the melbourne youth justice precinct

 

 

 

 

 

www.ombudsman.vic.gov.au

Working with children checks

310.On 3 April 2006, Working with Children Checks (WWCC) were introduced as a way to prevent persons who pose a risk to the safety of children from engaging in work which involves children.21 The Working with Children Act makes WWCCs mandatory for persons in Victoria undertaking child-related work.

311.A WWCC incorporates the Department of Justice conducting a:

proof of identity check

national police records check

assessment of criminal offences.22

312.As detainees at the Precinct are generally under the age of 18, it is necessary for staff to hold a current WWCC.

313.The department has advised my office that prospective staff are required to provide a receipt to the department to show they have applied for a WWCC. However, an approved WWCC or preliminary approval notice is not required for staff to commence work. In addition,

the department does not have a documented policy or system in place which provides for consistent recording and monitoring of WWCCs for staff.

314.At the request of my officers, the department provided a spreadsheet which lists former and current Precinct staff. An analysis of the spreadsheet by my office in July 2010 revealed:

65 out of 143 former staff (45 per cent) employed after 30 June 2006 did not have a

WWCC on their personnel file

132 out of 367 current staff (36 per cent) do not have a WWCC on their personnel file

in total, 39 per cent of former and current staff who were/are legally required to have a WWCC to work at the Precinct do not have a WWCC on their personnel file.

315.Following enquiries made by my officers as part of my investigation, the department has implemented the following practices to address problems with the recording and monitoring of WWCCs:

the WWCC portfolio has been assigned to the Training and Development Coordinator of Youth Justice Custodial Services

staff who do not have a current WWCC on their personnel file are currently being identified by the Training and Development Coordinator and a list of staff will be provided to the Human Resources Manager for action

The Training and Development Coordinator will be responsible for developing a centralised system that records the status of WWCCs for staff working in Youth Justice Custodial Services

WWCC records will be audited on a yearly basis to ensure all staff have a current WWCC.

21Department of Justice, Working with Children Check, website available at < http://www.justice.vic.gov.au/workingwithchildren>.

22Ibid.

failure to comply with operational and legislative provisions 79

 

www.ombudsman.vic.gov.au

Conclusions

316.My investigation has identified a culture in the Precinct where compliance with statutory responsibilities and operational policies is not valued. Departmental policies are outdated and omit critical legislative material. There is also a lack of due regard for the Charter of Human Rights in the Youth Justice Operations Manual.

317.My investigation has also identified poor administrative practices in relation to record keeping and non-compliance with mandatory procedures at the Precinct. Evidence demonstrates that Communications Books are not accurate records of everyday activity within each unit. An analysis of records shows that unit staff and supervisors frequently do not adhere to operational procedures outlined in the department’s Operations Manual. This is particularly concerning since many of the procedures in the Operations Manual are designed to ensure the safety of staff and detainees as well as the overall security and good order of the Precinct.

318.The means by which drugs and other illegal items are stored and recorded is inadequate and negates any evidentiary value the items might have. While I acknowledge that an Operations Manager has recently sought to rectify problems associated with the recording and storage of contraband through altering current procedure, the problems identified in my investigation particularly relate to compliance with policy rather than the quality of written instructions to staff.

319.The casual attitude prevalent in the Precinct toward compliance with mandatory operating procedures is exemplified by staff at a number of levels failing to carry a complete emergency aid pouch. The failure to carry a complete emergency aid pouch poses a potential risk to the care of detainees should immediate first aid attention be required.

320.The safety and wellbeing of detainees is essential to their rehabilitation and protection of their rights as children. The purpose of the Victorian Government’s Working with Children Check (WWCC) system is to safeguard against persons who pose a risk to children from engaging in child-related work. It is the responsibility of the department to ensure that its staff have an approved and current WWCC. In my view, the department has failed to uphold the purposes of the Working with Children Act by not:

adequately and consistently recording the status of WWCC’s for all staff

ensuring that all staff have an approved WWCC prior to commencing employment

developing a centralised recording system that can be monitored and audited.

321.I note that the department has now sought to improve its recording practices regarding

WWCCs because of issues raised by my office. However, given the significance to the safety of detainees, I am concerned that the department had not implemented such a system at the time WWCCs became mandatory for youth justice staff.

322.In my view, the widespread disregard for proper processes and mandatory procedures reflect poorly on the leadership of senior staff in the Precinct. The many instances of non- compliance with legislation and policy described in this report were readily identified by my investigators. Senior staff acknowledged that they were aware of, and at times participated in, this widespread culture of failing to adopt a professional approach to duty.

80

 

investigation into conditions at the melbourne youth justice precinct

 

 

 

 

 

www.ombudsman.vic.gov.au

323.The failure of the department to detect and address these issues also reflects poorly on its ability to monitor and oversee its programs. It also demonstrates the need for greater external scrutiny and oversight of the youth justice system that I have referred to earlier in this report.

324.In response to my concerns regarding compliance the department stated:

I accept your preliminary conclusions on the need to strengthen compliance with procedures across a range of other areas of the centres, including health and safety and disposal of contraband. The department has moved to implement a range of new procedures in relation to record keeping and reporting to enforce compliance with stated policies and procedures.

Recommendations

I recommend that the department:

Recommendation 23

Conduct regular audits of Communications Books to ensure all fields are completed with accurate information.

The department’s response

Accepted – An audit process has been implemented and a monthly compliance report developed.

Recommendation 24

Conduct monthly audits of the contraband safe and corresponding documentation to ensure that contraband is stored, recorded, transferred to police or destroyed in accordance with policy and legislative provisions.

The department’s response

Accepted – Monthly audits are now in place.

Recommendation 25

Ensure that the Operations Managers, Chief Executive Officer or other nominated persons conduct regular and random audits of staff emergency aid pouches.

The department’s response

Accepted – Random audits are now in place.

failure to comply with operational and legislative provisions 81

 

www.ombudsman.vic.gov.au

Recommendation 26

Report to my office on the outcome of the department’s identification of staff who do not have a Working with Children Check on their personnel file. Include reference to any staff who are working without an approved or current Working with Children Check and advise of the department’s remedial action.

The department’s response

Accepted – The department has advised that all Youth Justice Custodial Services employees now have a valid Working with Children Check, have provided an application receipt or are exempt from requiring a WWCC.

Recommendation 27

Develop a policy for the recording and monitoring of Working with Children Checks for staff in Youth Justice Custodial Services. Provide a copy of this policy to my office within three months.

The department’s response

Accepted – In progress.

82

 

investigation into conditions at the melbourne youth justice precinct

 

 

 

 

 

www.ombudsman.vic.gov.au

7. SUMMARY OF RECOMMENDATIONS

I recommend that the department:

Recommendation 1

Review the suitability of the Precinct in light of my investigation with a view to replacing it with a new facility.

Recommendation 2

Review the policies and practices relating to conditions to ensure that they comply with human rights principles.

Recommendation 3

Review the food handling and food preparation areas.

Recommendation 4

Review the Operations Manual to ensure that it draws on up-to-date legislative and policy provisions and addresses the matters identified in this report.

Recommendation 5

Review the performance of all current staff.

Recommendation 6

Ensure the Precinct and the Malmsbury Youth Justice Centre are registered in accordance with the Food Act 1984.

Recommendation 7

Install CCTV in all common areas of units throughout the Precinct, program areas and recreational areas as a priority.

Recommendation 8

Review the current model and policy process used to investigate allegations or suspicions of staff misconduct.

Recommendation 9

Clarify the department’s role in conducting investigations where police are involved, and provide senior staff with training on this issue.

Recommendation 10

Review departmental policy in relation to restraints and ensure that staff training is consistent.

summary of recommendations 83

 

www.ombudsman.vic.gov.au

Recommendation 11

Seek legal advice on the department’s ability to search employees’ bags before and after a shift and develop a policy in light of this advice.

Recommendation 12

Update the department’s Operations Manual to ensure that it refers to correct legislative and policy provisions.

Recommendation 13

Implement the practice of random, night checks to be regularly conducted across all units in the Precinct by the Operations Managers, Chief Executive Officer or nominated persons.

Recommendation 14

Ensure all staff are familiar with their obligation to seek formal approval for secondary employment. Where management is aware of staff engaging in secondary employment, ensure that departmental processes are adhered to.

Recommendation 15

Conduct regular audits of records relating to the purchasing, storage and use of goods and consumables in the Precinct.

Recommendation 16

Update and finalise departmental policies in relation to conduct and disciplinary matters.

Recommendation 17

Review its current training program schedule for all sentenced units within the Precinct, with a view to ensuring that all detainees are engaged in programs during school hours on week days.

Recommendation 18

Ensure that detainees who are on remand for extended periods are not omitted from programs.

Recommendation 19

Collect data on the number of hours each detainee attends programs during weekdays.

Recommendation 20

Review employment conditions at the Precinct with a view to introducing a Certificate IV in

Youth Work/Justice as mandatory for employment at the Precinct.

84

 

investigation into conditions at the melbourne youth justice precinct

 

 

 

 

 

www.ombudsman.vic.gov.au

Recommendation 21

Consider a professional multi-disciplinary approach to recruitment wherein persons from various backgrounds including nursing, psychology, psychiatry, child protection and disability services are employed.

Recommendation 22

Review the adequacy of the current response to young offenders with significant mental health problems who are detained in custodial centres. This review should also consider establishing a purpose built facility operated by trained health professionals.

Recommendation 23

Conduct regular audits of Communications Books to ensure all fields are completed with accurate information.

Recommendation 24

Conduct monthly audits of the contraband safe and corresponding documentation to ensure that contraband is stored, recorded, transferred to police or destroyed in accordance with policy and legislative provisions.

Recommendation 25

Ensure that the Operations Managers, Chief Executive Officer or other nominated persons conduct regular and random audits of staff emergency aid pouches.

Recommendation 26

Report to my office on the outcome of the department’s identification of staff who do not have a Working with Children Check on their personnel file. Include reference to any staff who are working without an approved or current Working with Children Check and advise of the department’s remedial action.

Recommendation 27

Develop a policy for the recording and monitoring of Working with Children Checks for staff in Youth Justice Custodial Services. Provide a copy of this policy to my office within three months.

All of my recommendations have been accepted by the department.

summary of recommendations 85

 

www.ombudsman.vic.gov.au

APPENDIX A – Management structure for each unit

ChiefExecutive

Officer

OperationsManagerforsentencedunitsintheJusticeCentre

OR

OperationsManagerforremandunitsintheJusticeCentre

andallunitsintheResidentialCentre

Unit Manager

Unit Coordinator

Unit Supervisor

Unit Staff

Unit Staff

Unit Staff

Unit Staff

Unit Staff

Member

Member

Member

Member

Member

86

 

investigation into conditions at the melbourne youth justice precinct

 

 

 

 

 

www.ombudsman.vic.gov.au

APPENDIX B – Graffiti

Photograph 17. Graffiti and unclean door.

Photograph 18. Graffiti on ceiling with markers and cigarette burning.

appendix b 87

 

www.ombudsman.vic.gov.au

APPENDIX B – continued

Photograph 19. Graffiti scratched into doors.

Photograph 20. Graffiti in a detainee’s bedroom.

88

 

investigation into conditions at the melbourne youth justice precinct

 

 

 

 

 

www.ombudsman.vic.gov.au

APPENDIX B – continued

Photograph 21. Graffiti covered light.

Photograph 22. Graffiti on a television in a bedroom.

appendix b 89

 

www.ombudsman.vic.gov.au

APPENDIX B – continued

Photograph 23. Graffiti covering an exit sign.This poses an occupation health and safety risk.

Photograph 24. Graffiti in a detainee’s room.

90

 

investigation into conditions at the melbourne youth justice precinct

 

 

 

 

 

www.ombudsman.vic.gov.au

APPENDIX C – Staphylococcus and hygiene

appendix c 91

 

www.ombudsman.vic.gov.au

APPENDIX C– continued

92

 

investigation into conditions at the melbourne youth justice precinct

 

 

 

 

 

www.ombudsman.vic.gov.au

APPENDIX C – continued

appendix c 93

 

www.ombudsman.vic.gov.au

APPENDIX C – continued

94

 

investigation into conditions at the melbourne youth justice precinct

 

 

 

 

 

www.ombudsman.vic.gov.au

APPENDIX C – continued

appendix c 95

 

www.ombudsman.vic.gov.au

APPENDIX C – continued

96

 

investigation into conditions at the melbourne youth justice precinct

 

 

 

 

 

www.ombudsman.vic.gov.au

APPENDIX C – continued

appendix c 97

Ombudsman’s Reports 2004-10

2010

Whistleblowers Protection Act 2001 Investigation into an allegation of improper conduct within RMIT’s School of Engineering (TAFE) – Aerospace

July 2010

Ombudsman investigation into the probity of the Kew Residential Services and St Kilda Triangle developments

June 2010

Own motion investigation into Child Protection – out of home care

May 2010

Report of an investigation into Local Government Victoria’s response to the Inspectors of Municipal Administration’s report on the City of Ballarat

April 2010

Whistleblowers Protection Act 2001 Investigation into the disclosure of information by a councillor of the City of Casey

March 2010

Ombudsman’s recommendations – Report on their implementation

February 2010

2009

Investigation into the handling of drug exhibits at the Victoria Police Forensic Services Centre

December 2009

Own motion investigation into the Department of Human Services – Child Protection Program

November 2009

Own motion investigation into the tendering and contracting of information and technology services within Victoria Police

November 2009

Brookland Greens Estate – Investigation into methane gas leaks

October 2009

A report of investigations into the City of Port Phillip

August 2009

An investigation into the Transport Accident Commission’s and the Victorian WorkCover Authority’s administrative processes for medical practitioner billing

Whistleblowers Protection Act 2001 Conflict of interest and abuse of power by a building inspector at Brimbank City Council

June 2009

Whistleblowers Protection Act 2001 Investigation into the alleged improper conduct of councillors at Brimbank City Council

May 2009

Investigation into corporate governance at Moorabool Shire Council

April 2009

Crime statistics and police numbers

March 2009

2008

Whistleblowers Protection Act 2001 Report of an investigation into issues at Bayside Health

October 2008

Probity controls in public hospitals for the procurement of non-clinical goods and services

August 2008

Investigation into contraband entering a prison and related issues

June 2008

Conflict of interest in local government

March 2008

Conflict of interest in the public sector

March 2008

2007

Investigation into VicRoads’ driver licensing arrangements

December 2007

Investigation into the disclosure of electronic communications addressed to the Member for Evelyn and related matters

November 2007

Investigation into the use of excessive force at the Melbourne Custody Centre

November 2007

Investigation into the Office of Housing’s tender process for the cleaning and gardening maintenance contract – CNG 2007

October 2007

July 2009

Investigation into a disclosure about WorkSafe’s and Victoria Police’s handling of a bullying and harassment complaint

April 2007

Own motion investigation into the policies and procedures of the planning department at the City of Greater Geelong

February 2007

2006

Conditions for persons in custody

July 2006

Review of the Freedom of Information Act 1982 June 2006

Investigation into parking infringement notices issued by Melbourne City Council

April 2006

Improving responses to allegations involving sexual assault

March 2006

2005

Investigation into the handling, storage and transfer of prisoner property in Victorian prisons

December 2005

Whistleblowers Protection Act 2001 Ombudsman’s guidelines

October 2005

Own motion investigation into VicRoads registration practices

June 2005

Complaint handling guide for the Victorian Public Sector 2005

May 2005

Review of the Freedom of Information Act 1982

Discussion paper

May 2005

Review of complaint handling in Victorian universities

May 2005

Investigation into the conduct of council officers in the administration of the Shire of Melton

March 2005

Discussion paper on improving responses to sexual abuse allegations

2004

Essendon Rental Housing Co-operative (ERHC)

December 2004

Complaint about the Medical Practitioners Board of Victoria

December 2004

Ceja task force drug related corruption – second interim report of Ombudsman Victoria

June 2004

February 2005