May 11, 2017 |
Youth advocates are urging the Victorian Government to swiftly reverse the mistake of holding kids in Barwon adult prison, following a Supreme Court decision today that deemed it unlawful. Human Rights Law Centre successfully led the challenge on behalf of 15 affected children.
Tiffany Overall, Convenor of youth advocacy group Smart Justice for Young People (SJ4YP), said the government had not acted in the best interest of the kids, nor the communities to which they will eventually return, by holding them in the maximum security facility.
‘Adult prison is no place for kids. Most of these children have histories of abuse, trauma and neglect. Locking them up in adult prison only causes them more damage. They leave prison in a worse state than when they went in, which ultimately puts community safety at risk,’ said Ms Overall.
‘It was a shocking mistake. But today’s judgement is a relief, and now there’s no denying what needs to be done: get kids out of Barwon.’
SJ4YP released a video during the case’s hearing in April with advocates from 20 organisations calling for vulnerable kids to be protected from exposure to the adult system.
But the Department of Justice recently advised of its intention to keep kids at Barwon months after the repairs at Victoria’s youth justice centres are expected to be completed.
‘The Government decided, without hesitation, to do the wrong thing and move kids to Barwon. Surely, it doesn’t take months to do the right thing,’ Ms Overall said.
‘Today’s outcome is a step forward. But the government must act quickly to move these kids to a better, safer facility, where they can get the support they need to return safely back to their families and communities.’
‘The longer kids are held at Barwon, the worse off the community will be.’