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New South Wales - Archival Item

Ken Buttrum interviewed by Gail Winkworth in the National Library of Australia's Children and the State oral history project [sound recording] (2009)

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In this recording of Ken Buttrum in 2009, the former Director General of the New South Wales Department of Juvenile Justice, discusses his work at the Anglican Youth Department, Minda Detention Centre, Mount Penang Training School for Boys, the Institution for Boys Tamworth and Endeavour House, Parramatta Girls Home. Mr Buttrum also describes the development of the Young Offenders Service, Child Care and Protection Acts, rights of children, juvenile justice reforms, the Pryke Report, Stanmore Community Youth Centres, policies towards offenders and Aboriginal youth, and thoughts on reform.


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Ken Buttrum talks about his family background and his early childhood environment; his schooling; attending teacher's college and his first teaching placement; relating to the situations of children placed in Juvenile Justice centres; working with Anglican Youth Dept.; his memory of Minda Detention Centre and the approaches to discipline; Mount Penang Training School for Boys; joining the public service; the experience of children in institutions; the Institution for Boys at Tamworth (later called Endeavour House), their treatment of children and its closure; conditions at Parramatta Girls Home; the reasons why girls were placed in institutions; the institutional abuse of Aboriginal children and their parents; the over representation of Aboriginal children in institutions; the role of public service in the formation of policy; change in relation to the government and public service in the 1980s; the re-organisation of Young Offenders Services and its implementation; The Child Care and Protection Acts; Rights of Children; reforms in the Juvenile Justice System; regionalisation of departments; Aboriginal representation in the public service; becoming Director General of Juvenile Justice in New South Wales in 1995; recommendations of the Pryke Report.

Buttrum discusses the transfer of resources to front end services; State differences; Stanmore Community Youth Centres and the model; relieving as CEO of Juvenile Justice; seeking minister's permission to regionalise the department; establishing a statement of purpose for the department; negotiating the power of police decision making in relation to young offenders; conferencing with young offenders; role models in management; the need to improve training of staff in detention centres; the introduction of accredited courses; the need to provide opportunities for personal growth; introducing a client based system and a complaints mechanism for youth in detention centres; becoming a chairperson of the Australian Juvenile Justice Administrators; education courses for youth in detention centres; rebuilding Mount Penang; drug counselling and counselling for sexual offenders; strategies to engage Indigenous youth in detention; establishing an Aboriginal mentor scheme with the community in Mount Penang; pressures placed on staff and the importance of support structures; his concluding thoughts about reform; the importance of profession growth within human service delivery organisations.

Prepared by: Naomi Parry