Report confirms the Andrews Government is failing children in youth justice

Report confirms the Andrews Government is failing children in youth justice

A damning Victorian Parliamentary report into youth justice released yesterday shows the Andrews Government is harming children in its care by forcing them into solitary confinement.

Ruth Barson, Director of Legal Advocacy at the Human Rights Law Centre, said that starving a child of human contact is one of the most damaging things we can do and the Government should prohibit it outright. 

"Isolating children in tiny prison cells for hours on end, with virtually no contact with other human beings, is cruel and harmful. Solitary confinement has no place in a modern, fair youth justice system that helps children to reach their potential. The Andrews Government should ban this archaic practice," said Ms Barson. 

Solitary confinement is defined by the UN as locking someone in a cell for 22 or more hours a day without meaningful human contact. Solitary confinement of children is prohibited under international human rights law because it is cruel, inhuman and degrading and it risks causing devastating and irreparable harm. Despite this, there is no clear prohibition of solitary confinement in Victorian law.

The Parliamentary report documented evidence of huge increases in harmful practices where children were isolated in locked rooms, including many which amounted to solitary confinement. The report also found evidence of breaches of laws and policies and "highly deficient" record keeping around practices of isolating children which led to under-reporting.

"The Andrews Government should be supporting children to thrive, not locking them away in the bottomless pit of solitary confinement. How we treat children today determines what our tomorrow looks like. The notion of children in solitary confinement offends our common humanity – the Andrews Government should prohibit this damaging practice," said Ms Barson.

For interviews or further information please call:

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