Moving youth justice to adult corrections the wrong approach

Moving youth justice to adult corrections the wrong approach

The Human Rights Law Centre is deeply concerned about today’s announcement that the Victorian Government will move the management of the youth justice system in Victoria to the department that manages adult prisons.

Hugh de Kretser, Executive Director at the Human Rights Law Centre, said, “We must treat children differently from adults. Victoria has one of the lowest crime rates for 10-17 year olds in the country and the focus on rehabilitation and age-appropriate facilities has helped to achieve this. Moving youth justice to the department that manages adult prisons risks undermining this approach and ultimately community safety.”

In addition to announcing the move of youth justice facilities to Corrections Victoria, the Victorian Government provided more details on the new 224 bed youth justice centre at Werribee South.

“There’s no doubt there are significant ongoing infrastructure problems at Parkville. The Werribee site provides an opportunity to build a new, safe facility that promotes rehabilitation. The government must ensure the facilities are appropriate for children and young people. It must learn from mistakes around the country and avoid a supermax mentality that will only harm community safety in the long run,” said Mr de Kretser.

“The best facilities in the world won’t be safe unless you have the right staffing, training and policies. Not enough attention is being put on the role excessive lockdowns and solitary confinement continue to play in the problems plaguing Victoria’s youth jails. Fixing that must be a priority,” he added.

The government’s announcements follow the transfer of children as young as 15 to a unit in the state’s most notorious adult jail, the use of adult prison guards in youth justice facilities and authorising the use of tear gas, capsicum spray and extendable batons.

“At Barwon prison we’re seeing the ongoing solitary confinement of children. The denial of proper education to mandatory school age kids. The use of capsicum spray by adult prison staff and the hospitalisation of a 16 year old boy after the government ignored our warnings to transfer him. 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,” he added.

More information

Hugh de Kretser 0403 965 340