Serious assault on 16 year old boy further evidence that no child belongs in an adult prison

Serious assault on 16 year old boy further evidence that no child belongs in an adult prison

Tonight’s ABC 7.30 episode detailing the serious assault on a 16-year old boy is further evidence that the Victorian Government must immediately act to remove children from Victoria’s most notorious adult jail. The boy suffered a fractured vertebrae and serious injuries to his face and head after being assaulted by fellow inmates on Monday.

The Human Rights Law Centre, who represents the boy, had held serious concerns for his safety before this assault as he had reportedly been assaulted at the Barwon twice before, including once by a member of staff.

Alina Leikin, Lawyer with the Human Rights Law Centre said, “Last week we notified the Government that we held grave concerns for his safety. We urgently requested his transfer out of there. It shouldn’t take a hospitalisation to get a child moved out of Barwon.”

After being hospitalised the boy has since been moved to Malmsbury Youth Justice Centre. Ms Leikin said she had been very worried about the boy because he had repeatedly raised concerns about his safety.

Ms Leikin said, “This boy had expressed to us his fears about being at Barwon. I’ve been visiting this facility for over two months now and it is manifestly unsuitable for children. There are repeated lockdowns with children locked in their cells 21-23 hours a day with extremely limited time outdoors. Some of the boys are not going outside for days on end. Barwon is no place for children.”

Last week the Victorian Government "gazetted" new conditions which allowed the use of capsicum spray, tear gas and batons at the Parkville and Malmsbury youth detention centres and the Grevillea Unit at Barwon. The HRLC was also deeply disturbed about the reported use of capsicum spray on others boys after the attack.

The HRLC’s Executive Director, Hugh de Kretser said, “Tear gas and capsicum spray are not the answers to the government’s youth justice issues. At a time when governments around the country are improving youth justice systems after seeing the horrors of Don Dale the Andrews Government is headed in the opposite direction.”

“It is well and truly time for the Government to do the right thing and get children out of the state’s most notorious adult jail,” he added.

For further comments or queries please contact:

Hugh de Kretser, Executive Director, 0403 965 340

Michelle Bennett, Director of Communications, 0419 100 51