Proposed new Queensland youth justice laws aimed to improve community safety will not keep the community safer.

QCOSS CEO Aimee McVeigh said the removal of detention as a last resort from the Youth Justice Act is an irresponsible smoke screen because Queensland already detains more children than any other jurisdiction in Australia.

“While our watch houses are full of children as young as 10, we have the highest rate of recidivism. Children are being jammed into crowded cells and experiencing appalling treatment,” Ms McVeigh said.

“The evidence is clear. Detaining young children is likely to lead to further offending behaviour.”

Against a backdrop of tens of thousands of people taking to the streets over the weekend demanding action on domestic and family violence, the last thing Queensland needs is a Community Safety Plan that fails to respond to the root causes of youth crime.

More than half of the children involved in the youth justice system have been impacted by domestic and family violence.

“Queensland does not need competition between chest-beating leaders. We need policies and reform that reflects the evidence that domestic and family violence is a direct cause of youth crime.”

Rather than focus on removing younger children from the criminal justice system and cracking down on violence against women and children, the Community Safety Plan will pump more vulnerable children into an overwhelmed system.

“Greater focus on apprehending and detaining young people, some as young as 10 and 11 years-old, will further exacerbate catastrophic outcomes in an already over-crowded youth justice system.”

Measures like fitting young people with GPS trackers have not proven to be effective in keeping the community safe.

“These measures have been tried and have not worked. The expansion of GPS trackers treats vulnerable children as guinea pigs, a test group for bad policy made on the run,” Ms McVeigh said.

1 May 2024