Why does the government keep doing the same thing and expect a different result: the looming human rights emergency in QLD

Amnesty International Australia condemned the Queensland government’s plans to overturn breach of bail legislation which requires dumping its own human rights act.

“Attempting to overturn the human rights act suggests that human rights are conditional. When in actuality, everyone is entitled to their human rights, no one is more or less worthy of protection,” Amnesty International Australia Indigenous Rights campaigner Kacey Teerman said.

“Multiple inquiries into youth justice in Queensland and indeed around Australia have found that locking kids up does nothing to address offending behaviour. In fact, it increases recidivism.

“Are we really in a position that the very government who wants to introduce these provisions acknowledges openly that they are ‘incompatible with human rights’ and this is not a national outrage?” Teerman said.

Queensland’s 2019-2023 strategy on youth justice reforms promised to reduce offending, reoffending, remand and detention of young people and the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. Last year, Youth Justice Minister Leanne Linard ruled out making breach of bail a crime, citing its ineffectiveness in reducing crime. And yet here we are with the government citing an emergency to breach its own Human Rights Act.

Mounting evidence has shown that over-policing does not keep children out of prison. But community-led prevention and early intervention programs do. Violent actions or behaviour in young children, especially Aboriginal children, are often directly linked to experiences of intergenerational trauma resulting from colonisation and racism and unresolved mental or physical health problems.

Government systems dealing with child protection and youth justice have repeatedly failed Aboriginal families. There are many examples of successful community-led solutions across the country. They need proper, long-term funding and a commitment from the Government to move away from Band-Aid responses that harm kids and don’t achieve the outcomes they promise.

“The real emergency here is what we are prepared to do to little kids in the name of votes.”