Legal challenge in Supreme Court against Victorian Government’s decision to detain children in maximum security adult prison

Legal challenge in Supreme Court against Victorian Government’s decision to detain children in maximum security adult prison

MEDIA ALERT - PRESS CONFERENCE

Legal challenge in Supreme Court against Victorian Government’s decision to detain children in maximum security adult prison.

Who: Hugh de Kretser, Executive Director, Human Rights Law Centre
Date: Monday 3 April 2017
Time: 9:15am
Location: On the steps of the Victorian Supreme Court, 210 William St, Melbourne

Kids don't belong in maximum security adult prison

The legal challenge against the Victorian Government’s decision to detain children in the Barwon maximum security adult prison will be heard by the Supreme Court from today.

The Human Rights Law Centre’s Executive Director, Hugh de Kretser, said the Victorian Government was taking the youth justice system in the wrong direction.

“Barwon in manifestly unfit to hold kids. Mistreating kids in an adult prison is not a solution. We need to invest the time and resources into showing kids that better options and pathways exist. Helping them to get their lives back on track is ultimately in the best interests of community safety,” said Mr de Kretser.

In December the Supreme Court ruled the Government had acted unlawfully in transferring children to the Barwon jail, but the Government side-stepped the ruling by reclassifying the Grevillea unit of Barwon as a youth justice facility, prompting the Human Rights Law Centre to lodge this new case.

In February the Human Rights Law Centre raised concerns that children at Barwon were being held in their cells for 23 hours a day and had been assaulted by adult prison guards.

“Numerous children told us that they were pinned to the floor by adult prison guards and kicked and punched,” said Mr de Kretser.

On Friday the Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory released its interim report into systemic abuses and mistreatment of children in youth prisons. Mr de Kretser said it was vital that the Victorian Government heed the lessons from the horrors of the Don Dale prison where children were abused in the former adult prison.

“Whether it’s in the Northern Territory or in Victoria, kids shouldn’t be in adult prisons. Victoria has done some great work in achieving one of the lowest youth crime rates in the country, but is currently headed in completely the wrong direction. As a society, we shouldn’t be giving up on our kids,” said Mr de Kretser.

For further information or comments please contact:

Tom Clarke on 0422 545 763 or Michelle Bennett on 0419 100 519