Youth watch-house holdings blasted
A CHILD safety expert has urged the State Governemnt to open temporary accommodation at youth detention centres instead of holding young people in police watch-houses while they await court.
Queensland Public Guardian Natalie Siegel-Brown has suggested the solution as well as introducing an option of transporting children in watch-houses to the detention centres during the day.
"While temporary structures are certainly not ideal, anything has to be better than the travesty of holding kids in he conditions of a watch-house," Ms Siegel-Brown said.
"At the very least, we need to regulate how kids are managed in a watch-house so that they have the same human rights as kids are under youth justice legislation."
As of Monday there were 73 children held in Queensland watch-houses.
Documents viewed by the Bulletin show the Brisbane Police Watch-House was thought to be the best alternative location to detention centres as it had more supports available for children than regional centres. However, the supports were withdrawn or limited as increased youth piled into the watch-house.
A report, compiled by the Queensland Public Guardian's office, noted fears for a young boy's mental health as he had spent nine days in the Townsville Watch-House.
"He (had) expressed some concerns about a possible transfer to Brisbane and away from his family, particularly his sister," the report stated. "He noted the face-to-face contact with his family as the only positive in his life."
Amnesty International indigenous rights advocate Joel Clark said a greater focus on keeping kids out of prison was required.
He said Queensland should invest in more early intervention programs and seriously consider raising the minimum age of criminal responsibility.
In Parliament yesterday Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the matter would be fully investigated.