14TB of emails halts Barrett closure inquiry

Barrett Adolescent Centre at Wacol was managed by West Moreton Hospital Health Service before it was closed in 2014.
Barrett Adolescent Centre at Wacol was managed by West Moreton Hospital Health Service before it was closed in 2014. Inga Williams

FOURTEEN terabytes of data containing millions of archived emails have halted the investigation into the closure of the Barrett Adolescent Centre.

And it could take months and millions of dollars to extract the information needed.

Commissioner Margaret Wilson is due to deliver her findings to the state government by January 14 next year following an inquiry into the Wacol adolescent centre's closure by the Newman government in early 2014.

Following its closure three teenagers Caitlin Wilkinson-Whiticker, 18, Talieha Nebauer, 17, and Will Fowell, 18, took their own lives.

On Thursday a public hearing in Brisbane was told many government departments had given the commission relevant documents but there had been a hold-up with education and health departments.

Counsel-assisting Paul Freeburn said millions of archived emails within the health department needed to be restored before they could be searched.

He said about 14 terabytes had been restored already and were with lawyers, but another 14 terabytes still needed to be restored before the searching process could begin.

Mr Freeburn said they had narrowed down 14 email accounts that were considered priorities to help the Commission of Inquiry.

He said these alone would take until January to be ready.

But if the commission required all of the 14 terabytes of information to be searched, he said the process could take up to August next year and cost millions of dollars.

"Ultimately Commissioner, it will be necessary to assess whether that exercise is worth the cost," he said.

He also said they were awaiting documents from the education department.

Commissioner Wilson said she was concerned about how far there was to go in the process.

"I thought technology was supposed to have revolutionised communication to have done so for the better," she said.

"I'm wondering whether it is for the better."

She said there needed to be further prioritisation of relevant documents and adjourned the inquiry until a date to be fixed.


Topics:  barrett adolescent centre data inquiry mental health

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