Together we can pressure the Qld government to get serious about using detention as a last resort, get kids younger than 13 out of detention, 17 year olds out of the adult prisons, and put the resources in place to prevent offending by addressing the reasons why children become involved in such behaviour.
Click here to sign the petition.
Youth Affairs Network Qld (YANQ) in collaboration with QUT, Griffith University, Youth Advocacy Centre and ATSILS are petitioning the Queensland Government to:
- cease the over reliance on remand;
- stop detaining children aged below 13 years of age in juvenile detention;
- finally meet their international legal obligations by ending the incarceration of 17 year olds in adult prisons by including them in the youth justice system.
Recent media investigations on the ABC Four Corners, 7:30, and Lateline programs in the last few weeks have identified major problems facing young people in the juvenile detention system. In the Northern Territory these include staff use of excessive force, restraint chairs, spit hoods and tear gas. In Qld these include shocking images of brutality being used to restrain children in Cleveland Detention Centre, Townsville.
Currently, around 167 children between the ages of 10 and 17 are detained in Queensland juvenile detention centres. In 2015, 64% of those detained children in Qld juvenile detention centres were Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander. This included 63 children aged less than 13. In Queensland, the system allows a 10, 11 or 12 year old child to be arrested somewhere in North Queensland, transported to a detention centre in either Townsville or Brisbane, often thousands of kilometres away from their families, to face the possibility of institutional ‘care’ which does not meet community standards. Disproportionately many more are Indigenous children and many will also be known to the child protection system.
At the same time, Queensland is the only Australian State to treat 17 year olds as adults for the criminal justice system and place them in adult jail. Adult prison environments are harmful to young people, who have very high rates of suicide in these settings. This is a blatant violation of the UN Convention Rights of the Child which requires children not to be detained with adults.
UN Convention Rights of the Child also stipulates that detention should only be used as a last resort. Yet on average 80% of children in detention in Qld are on remand. They are locked up while waiting bail or a court hearing. Over 50% of these children are subsequently released, because their cases were withdrawn, acquitted or their offence did not warrant detention. This means many children who pass through the detention system are never actually convicted of an offence that warranted detention in the first place.
Detention is being over-used and is criminogenic – that is, it is more likely to lead to ongoing involvement in offending than preventing it.
This petition will be delivered to Qld Attorney-General Hon. Yvette D'Ath