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Independent review of Queensland youth detention centres

by PeakCare Qld on 26th August 2016

Home -> Articles -> 2016 -> August -> Independent review of Queensland youth detention centres
PeakCare has welcomed the announcement made by the Queensland Government on 19th August 2016 of an independent review of Queensland's youth detention centres. When announcing the review, the Honourable Yvette D’Ath MP, Attorney-General and Minister for Justice referred to recent controversy concerning the Northern Territory’s Don Dale Detention Centre and serious allegations levelled against Queensland youth detention centre staff reported on by the ABC’s Four Corners, 7.30 Report and Lateline.

PeakCare commends the Attorney-General and Minister for Justice for seeking to address these allegations as “openly and transparently as possible” as stated within the Government’s media release. We also urge the Government to address, either as part of the review or alongside it, longstanding concerns raised by our Members and reported on in PeakCare’s ‘Roundtables Report 2016 – UPDATED’ about the age at which children may be regarded by a court as ‘criminally responsible’, the continuing practice of incarcerating 17 year old children in adult prisons, lengthy periods of detaining children on remand and the overnight (or longer) detention of children in watchhouses pending their release on bail or transportation to a youth detention centre.

It seems remarkably incongruent to PeakCare that we can so easily shop on-line for toys recommended for children aged 10 to 13 years while, at the same time, considering it acceptable for these children to be assessed as ‘criminally responsible’, therefore allowing them to be detained in custody with older young people. It’s similarly odd and disturbing that Queensland young people aged 17 years are viewed as too young to vote, but not too young to be imprisoned with adults. This practice is inconsistent with the practice of all other States and contrary to United Nations conventions to which Australia is a signatory. Compounding these concerns is the gross over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in youth detention centres, either on remand or sentence. Given the intersection of the youth justice and child protection systems, the success of the Government’s laudable commitment to ‘closing the gap’ and addressing the disproportionate representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children within the child protection system will be significantly hampered if complementary strategies to deal with this travesty are not initiated within the youth justice system.

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