Proposed Queensland youth justice reforms: right questions, wrong answers

A range of proposed reforms to the youth justice system currently being considered by the Queensland Government would be harmful, ineffective and raise serious human rights concerns, according to the HRLC.

“The key to making Queensland safer is implementing evidence-based policies that focus on doing what research shows is effective in reducing crime,” said the HRLC’s Ben Schokman.

“Regrettably many of the policies being considered by the Queensland Government, such as boot camps and criminalising bail breaches, are unlikely to reduce crime by young people and may actually increase the risk of reoffending.”

According to the HRLC’s submission, the proposals fail to respect the fundamental principle that the best interests of the child is a primary consideration and also raise a range of concerns with specific rights relating to young people in the criminal justice system.

“Crimes rates in Queensland are actually decreasing, yet the government persists with this ‘tough on crime’ rhetoric which at the end of day will be ineffective, counterproductive and extremely expensive,” said Mr Schokman.

The Queensland Government’s consultation paper released in March 2013 asks ‘what can we do to respond to the causes of crime’ and identifies the key causes of youth crime such as child neglect, exposure to violence during childhood, poor education, drug and alcohol abuse and mental health problems.

“The Government is asking the right questions but coming up with the wrong answers,” said Mr Schokman. “Any reforms must address the actual causes of youth crime through measures such as early intervention programs that target at-risk children and youth and which have been found to be cost effective ways to reduce crime.”

“The Queensland Government should invest heavily in this area and abandon plans for expensive and potentially counter-productive reforms that focus on increased criminalisation and punishment.”

“We are also extremely concerned that the proposals would have a disproportionate effect on young Aboriginal and Torres Strait lslander peoples and that many of the proposals are entirely inconsistent with the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody,” said Mr Schokman

The HRLC’s submission makes a range of practical recommendations to ensure that the proposals are consistent with human rights principles and will be effective at reducing crime and making communities safer.

A copy of the HRLC’s submission is available here.


For further information or comments contact:
Ben Schokman, Director - International Human Rights Advocacy, on 0403 622 810 or