Amnesty International Australia has made a submission to the inquiry into the Youth Justice and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2021 (QLD).
The bill sets out to:
- make it harder for recidivists to get bail,
- introduce a 12-month trial of GPS monitoring as a bail condition for 16 and 17-year-olds charged with particular offences,
- make it so that if a child commits an offence on bail, they get a tougher sentence, and
- meet other objectives regarding recidivism, ‘hooning’ and knife crime.
Amnesty International Australia is concerned that the bill will result in more children being detained in prisons and police watch houses, rather than being diverted to Indigenous and community-led programs that address the underlying causes of crime.
The Queensland government must do all it can to keep children out of prison. This doesn’t mean children who commit crimes aren’t held responsible, but alternatives – such as diversion programs – must be investigated and resourced.
The amendments to youth justice legislation in Queensland that Amnesty International strongly recommends is to:
- raise the minimum age of criminal responsibility from ten to at least fourteen, and
- legislate to prohibit children from being held in police watch houses overnight.