Adrianne Walters, Director of Legal Advocacy at the Human Rights Law Centre, said that state and territory criminal justice systems are out of balance and that governments around Australia have a responsibility to work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities to stem the number of people being sent to prison.
More examples of the serious mistreatment and harm to children in Australian youth detention centres have been detailed in damning reports from Western Australia’s independent Inspector of Custodial Services and Queensland’s Youth Detention Inspectorate.
The Northern Territory Government has been ineffective in its response to child offending and is failing to make communities safer, the Human Rights Law Centre told the Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory.
Hugh de Kretser, Executive Director with the Human Rights Law Centre told the Parliamentary Inquiry into Youth Justice Centres in Victoria that the Victorian Government has an opportunity to rebuild a safe, humane, age-appropriate youth justice system.
The over-imprisonment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women is a growing national crisis that is being overlooked by all levels of government in Australia, the Human Rights Law Centre and Change the Record said in a new report. HRLC's Adrianne Walters said, “The tragic and preventable death of Ms Dhu is a devastating example of what happens when the justice system fails Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women.
The Victorian Supreme Court this morning ruled that detaining children at the Barwon maximum security adult prison was unlawful and prohibited the Victorian Government from continuing to detain children there.
The Victorian Supreme Court will decide tomorrow whether the Victorian Government breached the law in moving children to the maximum security adult prison at Barwon. Human Rights Law Centre lawyers to hold a doorstop press conference shortly after the court session has concluded.
Over 80 recommendations have been made to bring the Queensland youth justice system in line with international law and to respond to the individual developmental needs of each child. the review reminds us that just because a child is incarcerated, their human rights and entitlements must not be ignored.
The Victorian Government told the Supreme Court last December that its sole justification for locking kids up in a maximum security adult prison was the lack of capacity due to the damage at Parkville. Yet now the Government has admitted that even when those 60 beds are fully repaired next month, it’s going to continue to keep kids at Barwon until August or September.
MEDIA ALERT: DOOR STOP PRESS CONFERENCE
9:15am Monday 3 April 2017
On the steps of the Victorian Supreme Court, 210 William St, Melbourne
with the Human Rights Law Centre’s Executive Director Hugh de Kretser
Tomorrow the Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory will release its interim report into systemic abuses and mistreatment of children in youth prisons.
On 30 March 2017, the Herald Sun published a story about our Supreme Court challenge against the Victorian Government to stop the use of Barwon prison to detain children. The story includes a letter written by one of our clients.
The Commission for Children and Young People released a scathing report, The Same Four Walls, detailing widespread isolation of children in Victoria’s youth justice centres. "You can’t respond to inadequate staffing levels by just leaving kids locked up in the cells for hours on end. It’s time for the Victorian Government to stop taking short cuts and to start properly resourcing the youth justice system," the HRLC's Alina Leikin.
The Victorian Government must address the underlying causes of damaging incidents in youth justice centres including staffing and lockdowns, the Human Rights Law Centre has said in a submission to a Victorian Parliamentary inquiry
Less then a month before the Supreme Court hears the third legal challenge to the Victorian Government's decision to detain children at the Barwon maximum security adult prison, lawyers are concerned that the use of extreme practices appears to be increasing.
“All the data shows that these laws are being overwhelmingly used against Aboriginal people. Twenty-six years ago the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody made clear that locking someone up should only ever be a last resort and that police should be required to consider safer options,” said HRLC's Adrianne Walters.
Disturbing details have emerged about the incident on Monday night at the Barwon maximum security adult prison where the Victorian Government is currently detaining around 21 boys aged between 15 and 18 years old.
The Human Rights Law Centre welcomes Commonwealth Attorney-General George Brandis' announcement today that Australia would ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture and other mistreatment (OPCAT) by the end of the year.
A new Supreme Court case has been launched against the Victorian Government by the Human Rights Law Centre to stop the use of Barwon prison to detain children.
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.
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 is deeply disturbed about an incident at the Barwon jail yesterday resulting in serious injuries to a 16 year old boy and the reported use of capsicum spray on others. The injured boy was hospitalised overnight after being assaulted by other boys and is now being moved to Malmsbury youth justice facility.
On 17 November 2016, the Victorian Government decided to use the Grevillea Unit in the Barwon maximum security adult prison as a youth jail and started sending children as young as 15 there. This article explains why children do not belong in adult jails.
The Government’s decision to regazette Barwon adult jail as a youth justice facility is an act of utter bad faith, say human rights lawyers.
Only yesterday the Victorian Court of Appeal upheld the Supreme Court’s decision that the Victorian Government acted unlawfully in gazetting Barwon adult prison as a youth justice facility.
The Victorian Court of Appeal today unanimously confirmed that the Victorian Government acted unlawfully in transferring children to the Barwon adult jail. The Court was hearing an appeal against last week's Supreme Court ruling.
Hugh de Kretser, Executive Director at the Human Rights Law Centre, said, “Jailing children in the state’s most notorious adult prison was a terrible mistake. The government needs to house these children in a safe, lawful and appropriate facility.”
The Victorian Court of Appeal will tomorrow hear the appeal against last week’s Supreme Court ruling that the Victorian Government acted unlawfully in transferring children to the Barwon adult jail. The Court of Appeal is expected to make its decision on the appeal at the end of tomorrow’s hearing.
In a landmark case, the Supreme Court held that the Victorian Government’s decision to transfer children to Barwon maximum security adult jail was unlawful. The Court also found that the Government failed to properly consider the Victorian Charter of Human Rights.
Date: Wednesday 21 December 2016
Location: On the steps of the Victorian Supreme Court, 210 William St, Melbourne
The tragic death of Ms Dhu could have been prevented, said the Western Australian State Coroner today. The Coroner found that many of the police officers entrusted with her care acted unprofessionally and treated Ms Dhu inhumanely.
Time: 8:45AM (AWST)
Date: Friday 16 December
Where: Steps of the Perth Central Law Courts, 501 Hay St, Perth WA 6000
Youth justice in Victoria is at the crossroads. The Supreme Court has ruled, yet again, that it was unlawful for the Victorian government to lock up children at the state’s most notorious maximum security adult jail.
Mandatory sentences are not the right tool for reducing crime, writes our Executive Director, Hugh de Kretser, following the misguided policy announcement from Victoria's Opposition Leader.
Just a day after Victoria’s highest court confirmed the government acted unlawfully in detaining children at the Barwon adult prison, the Minister has tried yet again to keep them there. The government is spending extraordinary resources defending the indefensible – jailing children in the state’s most notorious adult prison.
There is indeed a crisis in Victoria's youth justice system. It is not one, as the Government suggests, of available beds or suitable facilities – these things are imminently fixable with a dose of political will. Rather, the crisis is one of a myopic outlook and a merciless attitude: a willingness to countenance cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.
Brutal images of Aboriginal women and children being mistreated in custody are a defining feature of 2016. From Dylan Voller and the young detainees of Don Dale to Ms Dhu, Australians have been forced to reckon with the cruel reality of Australia's over-imprisonment crisis.
I've just returned from Barwon maximum security adult prison. I found myself squatting on the floor to talk to one of our clients – a 16-year-old child – through the trapdoor to his cell. The tight steel opening so small I could only see his anxious eyes. He is being held in solitary confinement; pacing his cell, uncertain when he will be let out. He hasn't seen the sky since Thursday.
We need to get to the bottom of what went wrong with the riot at the Parkville Youth Justice Centre. We don’t need lazy, kneejerk populist responses, like transferring kids to adults jails, which are designed to sound tough on crime and which in fact will only make things worse.
Last year, Kumanjayi Langdon, a proud and respected 59-year-old Warlpiri man from a large family, died in police custody in Darwin.
His crime? Police suspected he was drinking in a local park. He wasn’t causing any disruption and was polite and cooperative at all times.
Dragged from her cell. Handcuffed and paralysed. Hauled, dying, into the back of a police truck. This week Australia may be confronted, yet again, with images and footage of the justice system failing Aboriginal people, with devastating results.
Prime Minister Malcom Turnbull's announcement of a royal commission into the abuse of children in Northern Territory jails gives an insight into his instincts on human rights.
Human Rights Law Centre Lawyer, Alina Leikin, discusses the Supreme Court challenge to stop the Victorian Government from locking up kids in an adult maximum security prison
In his words
Throughout the case, we worked to make sure the voices of our clients were heard The Herald Sun published the following story about our Supreme Court challenge against the Victorian Government to stop the use of Barwon prison to detain children. It includes a letter written by one of our clients. Click here to read the full letter.