9 camera feeds on the one computer screen, showing blue-hued images looking down at bare cells. A blurred figure is curled on the floor of one cell image.

Amnesty International welcomes Queensland Youth Justice Amendment Bill

Responding to Queensland’s Youth Justice Amendment Bill introduced today, Amnesty International Australia Indigenous Rights Advocate, Joel Clark said:

“This is serious reform that goes a long way towards fixing Queensland’s broken youth justice system. By addressing major concerns around bail, this reform will  have a positive effect on remand rates. It will reduce the number of kids in prison, meaning that the government will no longer have to rely on watch houses.

“The amendments allow kids to get the support that will help them thrive and get them out of the youth justice quicksand,” Clark said.

“This is serious reform that goes a long way towards fixing Queensland’s broken youth justice system. By addressing major concerns around bail, this reform will  have a positive effect on remand rates. It will reduce the number of kids in prison, meaning that the government will no longer have to rely on watch houses.”

The Bill, which is before the Queensland Parliament and will be determined when Parliament next sits in late July or early August, outlines key reforms to address issues that were exposed in ABC Four Corners’ Inside the Watch House including:

  • Ensuring that detention of children as a last resort applies in regards to bail,
  • A new principle requiring the youth justice system (including, for example, courts, legal representatives and the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions) give priority to proceedings for young people who are remanded in custody,
  • A requirement for young people who are arrested and detained to be brought before the Children’s Court as soon as practicable and within 24 hours, or if the court cannot be constituted within 24 hours of the arrest, on the next available day, and
  • A prohibition on locking up children solely because the child lacks accommodation, or has no apparent family support, and
  • Special care and protection for children under 14.

“These are massive steps forward for youth justice reform in Queensland. To ensure that kids never have to face the horrors that were exposed in the Brisbane City Watch House. We also call on  Parliament to legislate that children be prohibited from being held overnight in watch houses and to raise the age of criminal responsibility to at least 14 years.

“This reform has come about due to long and sustained campaigning from many organisations that should be proud of the positive impact that they have had on the lives of children in Queensland.”

Profile Picture