Responding to the annual report from the Children’s Court of Queensland, Amnesty International Australia Indigenous Rights Campaigner, Maggie Munn, said:
“This latest report from the Queensland children’s court makes for predictably grim reading. What’s most alarming is that this is just the latest in a long history of such reports with the same statistics of gross overrepresentation of First Nations kids.
“And yet, we see the government in Queensland doubling down on a punitive approach to youth offending.”
In December, the Queensland government announced a 10-point plan which included the construction of two new youth detention centres and an increase in maximum sentences for vehicle theft to 10 years, increasing to 14 if the theft happens at night.
“Building more prisons will simply mean more lives lost to the justice system. When will our governments stop resorting to measures which aren’t effective in reducing rates of crime and recidivism and also trap vulnerable kids in a system they’ll never get out of,” Munn said.
“All the research and the experiences of folks who have been incarcerated tells us that when children are incarcerated, it begins a cycle of harm and violence that keeps them trapped in the criminal legal system, very rarely with the support needed to address the underlying causes of their behaviour.
“Australia locks up children as young as 10, taking away childhoods and causing them serious harm at a crucial time of development, when they are being shaped into the adults they will become. Kids do not belong in prisons, they belong in community.
“The best way we can tackle this shameful legacy of colonisation is by raising the age and taking a therapeutic approach to addressing the needs of children. What we’re doing now is failing everyone and most especially little kids who need support.”
All kids have the right to be free, happy and safe – including First Nations kids. It’s time to put an end to the barbaric treatment of our children and overhaul our response to youth crime. Mistreatment of children is never okay. Act now and learn more about our child rights and Indigenous justice campaigns.