Decision to be handed down in legal challenge to transfer of children to Barwon adult jail

Decision to be handed down in legal challenge to transfer of children to Barwon adult jail

MEDIA ALERT - PRESS CONFERENCE

Who: Lawyers representing the children to hold Press Conference after decision is handed down - Ruth Barson, Human Rights Law Centre and Meghan Fitzgerald, Fitzroy Legal Service
Date: Wednesday 21 December 2016
Time: 1.00pm
Location: On the steps of the Victorian Supreme Court, 210 William St, Melbourne

MEDIA RELEASE

The Supreme Court of Victoria will today hand down its decision into the lawfulness of transferring children to Barwon adult jail. 

The decision follows a legal challenge, launched by Fitzroy Legal Service and the Human Rights Law Centre, against the Government’s transfer of children to Barwon maximum security adult jail. The challenge is on the back of the Government last month settling a similar case, agreeing not to transfer any Aboriginal children to adult jail. 

Ruth Barson, Director of Legal Advocacy at the Human Rights Law Centre, said that children do not belong in the State’s most notorious and hardened adult prison. 

“While the Government no doubt has a policy challenge on its hands, cruelty towards children can never be the answer. The Government must find alternatives to exposing children to the harm of an adult jail,” said Ms Barson.  

The case was heard over four days last week. There was evidence given that children had been held in solitary confinement; had been exposed to guard dogs and Corrections officers who did not have a working with children check; and that children are not getting proper access to education or schooling. 

Meghan Fitzgerald, Manager of Social Action, Policy and Law Reform at Fitzroy Legal Service, said that all children have the right to be held in a safe environment, capable of meeting their basic developmental needs. 

“The decision to transfer children to an adult jail sets a dangerous precedent. We have a duty as a community to steer these kids along the right track. My clients are fearful and distressed – they belong in classrooms developing skills that allow them to contribute, not locked down in concrete boxes,” said Ms Fitzgerald.

The decision will be handed down at 11am today in Court 6 of the Supreme Court, William Cooper building.

For further comments or queries: 

Ruth Barson, Human Rights Law Centre: 0417 773 037

Meghan Fitzgerald, Fitzroy Legal Service: 0450 977 447

Michelle Bennett, Director of Communications, Human Rights Law Centre: 0419 100 519