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Many Colours 1 Direction Program

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Wednesday, 14 October 2020

Tags: Brahminy, Child Safety

Many Colours 1 Direction Program, Cassy O'Connor MP, 14 October 2020



Yesterday in this place you reassured us your Government is looking to get the best outcome for the young people at Brahminy in the Northern Territory and has engaged directly with the participants in the program. You have reassured us of that again today. We have now seen video evidence of at least one young Tasmanian, a long-term participant in the program, on the loose, in a borrowed vehicle, doing more than 100 kilometres an hour on a remote back road. I am sure you will agree that it is heartbreaking viewing.

Do you really believe the program is delivering the best outcomes for these young Tasmanians? Do you really believe the best outcome is almost 3000 kilometres away? Do you believe we cannot do better for them here?

Why will you not step in to bring them home? Do you recognise that rather than banishing these troubled young people to the Northern Territory, far from family and community, there is a compelling need for a Tasmanian-based, appropriately resourced and supported bush therapy program? Will you commit to making that happen as a priority?



Madam Speaker, I thank the Leader of the Greens for that question. I thank you for asking about this particular matter in a relatively sensitive way.

My advice is that the Government has examined opportunities for the development of a program in the past to deliver similar outcomes to the MC1D program. We have looked at it, as I understand it, and we will continue to do so. This included a request, an ROI back in 2018, which, unfortunately, did not identify any suitable programs amongst a small number of Tasmanian community organisations that made submissions at that time.

I understand that we have continued to engage and work with Aboriginal communities and organisations to scope an On Country residential program delivered in Tasmania by Aboriginal people. We are also open to further discussions with service providers that have expressed interest in presenting service models that may assist the complex situations that these young children are in. I hoped that we could reduce the need to use an external program like MC1D. The Government is looking at what it can do.

I would come back to this point - and you asked me about what I genuinely feel about this situation - based on the advice that I have received to date, reaching in and removing those children out of that program immediately is not the right thing to do for those children. If that advice changes, then in a heartbeat I would do that. I have thought long and hard about this situation.

The easy, political thing to do would be for a kneejerk reaction and to bring those kids home. That is the easy thing to do. The difficult thing to do is to ask people in this place to think about the impact that this public discourse is having on those kids.

What it is doing to those kids who are in a therapeutic program at the moment who, on the advice that I have received, are taking steps forward in being able to repair their own lives. Today you will receive a briefing from people who are on the ground. You will be able to form your own judgment of the steps that have been taken and form your own judgments about the steps that will need to be taken into the future. I urge you to receive that briefing, to take on board that information. First and foremost, I ask everyone in this place to put the kids front and centre in our thinking because that is the most important thing.

I must admit I watched Sky News earlier this morning; I watched ABC24 early this morning and I thought, what impact is that having on these kids? How is that helping their self-worth at the moment?

In terms of where we are at the moment, there is a review under way, it is wide ranging and it is looking at the issues that confront us in terms of this program. There are people on the ground. I ask this parliament and the Leaders and others who will benefit from the briefing today to move forward with the kids front and centre, have that briefing and then make your own judgments about what we think is the best next step.