Qld youth justice law changes: breaches govt’s obligation to put interests of children first

25th Aug 2023

The changes made to Queensland’s youth justice laws yesterday which mean that children can be held in adult police watch houses indefinitely are cruel and will endanger the wellbeing of vulnerable members of the community, says the Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA).

“This is a gross breach of the obligation of the Queensland government to put the interests of the child first,” said Mr Greg Barns SC, national criminal justice spokesperson for the Australian Lawyers Alliance.

“Suspending the Queensland Human Rights Act is deeply troubling because it gives a green light to the government to be able to inflict cruelty on children through indefinite detention in conditions which are inherently dangerous for children.

“All for what?  For political gain. It seems that politics is being placed above the wellbeing of some of the most vulnerable members of the community.”

Queensland is bound by the Convention on the Rights of the Child where the best interests of the child must be paramount, and the detention of children should only ever be used as a last resort, and never for an indefinite period. There is a duty of care owed to children by governments that detain them.

“The policy will lead inevitably to civil claims for abuse by the state,” said Mr Barns SC.

“It is very disappointing that the Queensland government has not learnt the lessons of history - the evidence of the damage done by governments over many decades to children in institutions.”


Tags: Queensland Criminal justice Youth Justice Abuse