Abuse of children in youth detention requires a national response


The Change the Record Coalition has today called for a national response to end the abuse of children in youth detention, following allegations of violence and mistreatment in ACT youth detention facilities.

These most recent reports, add to a growing list of revelations of abuse of children in detention around Australia, including in Queensland’s Cleveland Youth Detention Centre, the Northern Territory’s Don Dale Detention Centre and Victoria’s Barwon Prison.

CTR Co-Chair Cheryl Axleby said, “Today’s whistle-blower reports from the ACT are extremely concerning, alleging over six years of violence and abuse inside the Bimberi youth detention centre. And just last week, newly released information from the Queensland detailed horrific incidents of children being hogtied, restrained and sedated”.

“Together these appalling accounts highlight an extremely concerning state of affairs for Australia’s youth justice systems. We urgently need Federal leadership to  shine a light on abuses in all jurisdictions, and immediate action to ensure the protection of all children in the justice system” said Ms Axleby.

Co-Chair Antoinette Braybrook said “This is a national crisis that demands a national response. We call on the Prime Minister to  urgently commit to developing justice targets, and working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to develop a national, holistic, whole-of-government action plan” said Ms Braybrook.

The interim report of the Northern Territory Royal Commission, which was released in March 2017, found that a detention system that focuses on punitive, rather than rehabilitative, measures is failing young people.

“Governments at all levels must begin to focus on investing  in effective early intervention, prevention and diversion programs. We need to focus on supporting, rather than punishing, our young people to maximise their chances of achieving their full potential” said Ms Braybrook.

Shannon Longhurst for Cheryl Axleby and Antoinette Braybrook - ph: 0409 711 061 / e: shannon@changetherecord.org.au