Jesuit Social Services has called for national leadership to reform youth justice systems across Australia in light of Monday’s Four Corners episode on ABC TV.
The implementation of a national youth justice strategy and immediately raising the age of criminal responsibility from 10 to 14 years, as highlighted in Jesuit Social Services’ federal election platform, will prevent more vulnerable children and young people from having contact with the justice system, the organisation said.
“We were horrified to see children, including primary school aged children, being treated in such an inhumane manner. Children being kept in isolation for days on end, children being denied access to prescribed medications and children being detained with alleged sex offenders,” Jesuit Social Services chief Julie Edwards said.
“Have we learned nothing from the horrors of Don Dale which sparked a royal commission in the Northern Territory? This shameful treatment of vulnerable children and young people is a national disgrace and must lead to immediate reform to ensure it never happens again.”
In Jesuit Social Services’ federal election platform, “A more compassionate Australia”, the organisation called for the incoming federal government to commit to and implement a national youth justice strategy that recognises the links between poverty, disadvantage and crime, and holds young people to account while diverting them away from the justice system at every possible opportunity.
“Queensland is not the only state that is dealing with significant problems in the youth justice system. It is well documented that Victoria, New South Wales, South Australia, Western Australia and the Northern Territory are all dealing with systemic issues including high numbers of children on remand and inadequate infrastructure, including poor support and training for staff who often don’t have the necessary skills and experience to do this challenging job,” Ms Edwards said.
“Enough is enough – it is time for national leadership around this issue.”
Watch House Files highlight urgent need for National Youth Justice Strategy (Jesuit Social Services)