Brisbane solicitor critical of 4 Corners report
Wednesday, August 26, 2009, 2:10 pm | Reported by Rory Dawson
Damian Bartholomew, a solicitor for Brisbane’s Youth Advocacy Centre, has criticised Monday night’s Four Corners report.
The report, Kids Doing Time, focused on Australia’s flawed youth justice system.
Mr Bartholomew says that while the report accurately covered New South Wales and Victoria, it failed to mention the unique flaws in the Queensland juvenile justice system.
“Queensland remains the only state in Australia that detains 17-year-olds in adult prisons,” says Mr Bartholomew.
“These people are legally children … it’s in contravention of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.”
Under current laws, 17-year-olds in Queensland can be sent to adult prisons or made to do community service with adult offenders.
A report by Queensland’s Youth Affairs Network in 2007 outlined the problems with this system.
“Seventeen-year-old children are exposed to a potentially dangerous environment when exposed to the negative influence of seasoned mature offenders,” the report says.
“Juveniles in adult facilities are eight times more likely to commit suicide, five times more likely to report being raped or sexually attacked, twice as likely to report being beaten by prison staff, and 50 per cent more likely to be attacked with a weapon.”
In 1992, the Queensland Juvenile Justice Act was created allowing regulations to be made so that 17-year-olds could be included in the youth justice system. But the Queensland Government is yet introduce those regulations.
“The excuse the [Queensland] Government always give is that the infrastructure cost would be too much,” says Mr Bartholomew.
“Which is partly true … but youth crime doesn’t have a quick fix solution.”
For more information head to http://www.yac.net.au/.