17 year olds in Youth Justice
Today, Queensland joins the rest of the country in sentencing 17-year-olds as children. This is a great step for Queensland as a society, but for members in Youth Justice & Youth Detention, this comes with challenges.
On Wednesday 31 January, BYDC Together members took action about the ongoing safety issues and the introduction of 17-year-olds into already at capacity centres. This hard and brave move won:
- staffing ratios,
- safety upgrades,
- extra commitments around investigations and
- union involvement in screening processes.
This action has highlighted the importance of getting this transition and the daily operations of BYDC, right from the get go. The department is listening.
The safety of young people and staff on site at BYDC and CYDC must always be the first priority.
Today, Minister Farmer announced that the transition of any 17-year-olds currently in adult prisons will be delayed until it is safe to do so. Further, any 17-year-olds who were charged before today, if they are remanded or sentenced to custody, will do so in the adult system until it is safe to transfer them to youth detention.
These changes wouldn't have been possible without union members taking action and mean that Youth Detention has the ability to safely control the intake of 17-year-olds. The capacity of both Centres needs to be considered for the safety of young people and staff alike, and the Minister has said this.
We know there is still work to be done. Minister Farmer and the Director-General have committed to working with your union to ensure that issues are addressed as quickly and safely as possible.
Your union will be part of a new working group to look at the staffing issues in Youth Detention like recruitment, secure jobs, improving investigation processes and rostering. Former Police Commissioner Bob Atkinson will oversee the implementation of the Youth Justice reforms moving forward.
Congratulations once again on your commitment to the safety of your co-workers and the young people you work with. Together, you are making Youth Detention safer.