Punish bad boys, says Opposition
THE assault of a youth worker at the Acmena Juvenile Justice Centre at South Grafton has prompted Opposition calls for zero tolerance of detainees who physically intimidate employees in the juvenile justice system.
Two detainees were transferred to a high security juvenile centre from Acmena after the incident on Sunday.
Yesterday, a statement issued by the Director-General of Juvenile Justice, David Sherlock, said the two detainees, aged 15 and 17, were expected to be charged by police.
Mr Sherlock said the employee was punched by the 15-year-old during an incident in which the 17-year-old detainee was being restrained. The incident arose after the 17-year-old became abusive when told he was still suspended from outings.
Police said yesterday their investigation was continuing.
Opposition spokeswoman for Juvenile Justice Catherine Cusack and the Member for Clarence Steve Cansdell, outside Acmena's gates yesterday, condemned what they termed as the Carr Government's softly, softly approach to juvenile offenders.
Ms Cusack said the Government had become obsessed with rehabilitative aspects of juvenile detention, in turn putting the welfare and rights of detainees ahead of employee safety.
She highlighted the WorkCover case successfully brought against the Juvenile Justice Department in 2002 after the stabbing death of a teacher at the Yasmar Juvenile Justice Centre in Sydney in 1999.
In handing down her judgement, Justice Staunton said the department had been obliged to provide a safe place and system of work for its employees under the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
Ms Cusack said Sunday's incident highlighted the department's disregard for Justice Staunton's finding.
Juvenile Justice Minster Diane Beamer was yesterday on leave and unavailable for comment.
A spokesman for the Minister said bad behaviour by detainees would not be tolerated.
He said the safety of staff was uppermost in the reviews of procedures that took place after the riots at Acmena in December 2003.
He said extra internal security fences, lighting and video surveillance upgrades had contributed to a 25 per cent decrease in staff assaults across the State's juve- nile justice centres.