Queensland Public Guardian Natalie Siegel-Brown said while temporary structures were not ideal for holding young offenders, anything was better than the “travesty of holding kids” in a watch-house. Picture: Jamie Hanson
Queensland Public Guardian Natalie Siegel-Brown said while temporary structures were not ideal for holding young offenders, anything was better than the “travesty of holding kids” in a watch-house. Picture: Jamie Hanson

Youth watch-house holdings blasted

A CHILD safety expert has urged the State Governemnt to open temporary accommodation at youth detention centres instead of holding young people in police watch-houses while they await court.

Queensland Public Guardian Natalie Siegel-Brown has suggested the ­solution as well as introducing an option of transporting children in watch-houses to the detention centres during the day.

"While temporary structures are certainly not ideal, anything has to be better than the travesty of holding kids in he conditions of a watch-house," Ms Siegel-Brown said.

"At the very least, we need to regulate how kids are managed in a watch-house so that they have the same human rights as kids are under youth justice legislation."

The Bulletin first raised concerns about the watch-house practice in April 2018.

As of Monday there were 73 children held in Queensland watch-houses.

Documents viewed by the Bulletin show the Brisbane Police Watch-House was thought to be the best ­alternative location to detention centres as it had more supports available for children than regional centres. However, the supports were withdrawn or limited as ­increased youth piled into the watch-house.

A report, compiled by the Queensland Public Guardian's office, noted fears for a young boy's mental health as he had spent nine days in the Townsville Watch-House.

"He (had) expressed some concerns about a possible transfer to Brisbane and away from his family, particularly his sister," the report stated. "He noted the face-to-face contact with his family as the only positive in his life."

Amnesty International ­indigenous rights advocate Joel Clark said a greater focus on keeping kids out of prison was required.

He said Queensland should invest in more early intervention ­programs and seriously consider raising the minimum age of criminal responsibility.

In Parliament yesterday Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the matter would be fully investigated.



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