Randall Ross, Justice King, Claire Mallinson and Roxanne Moore stand behind a lectern at the press conference.

Good news: 17-year-olds out of adult prisons

The Palaszczuk Government, with the support of three cross-bench Members, has today shown great leadership in protecting Queensland’s children. It has ensured the passage of a historic Bill to move 17-year-old children out of adult prisons and into the youth justice system.

Queensland has treated 17-year-old children as adults in the criminal justice system since 1965. It is currently the only state or territory in Australia to try 17-year-olds in the adult criminal justice system and hold them in adult prisons, in breach of international law.

But today, Queensland passed the Youth Justice and Other Legislation (Inclusion of 17-year-old Persons) Amendment Bill 2016. When it comes into effect in a year’s time, 17-year-old children will be transitioned into the youth justice system and moved out of adult prisons.

Read our full report on youth justice in QLD

Chance for rehabilitation

“Today, over five decades of injustice are coming to an end,” said Roxanne Moore, Indigenous Rights Campaigner at Amnesty International Australia.

Today, over five decades of injustice are coming to an end.

Roxanne Moore, Amnesty International Australia

“The Bill passed today recognises that 17 year-olds are children, and all children, no matter what offence they may have committed, should be given every possible opportunity for rehabilitation. They are far more likely to have this in the youth justice system.”

Children’s potential

As at 1 October, 40 children aged 17 were held in adult prisons, where Amnesty International research found they may not have access to education, or daily essentials like toothbrushes and soap.

The passing of this Bill means that the hopes, dreams and potential of 17-year-olds will no longer get wasted away behind adult prison bars in harsh conditions.

Roxanne moore, amnesty international australia

For years, Amnesty International joined community members, lawyers and advocacy organisations in urging Queensland to include all children in the youth justice system, in line with international law.

The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child has been calling on Queensland to make this move since 2005.

We released a report two months ago which, amongst other things, outlined the pressing need for 17-year-olds to be immediately transferred out of the adult criminal justice system. Shortly afterwards, the organisation welcomed the Queensland Government’s historic announcement that it would soon make this move.