Queensland Law Society

President’s message: Child correctional facilities – is there a problem here?

The issues relating to the treatment of children in NT correctional centres are no doubt of concern to QLS members, and it is heartening to hear that these will receive proper scrutiny under an appropriate royal commission.

Members may be more particularly concerned by a number of other recent allegations that similar incidents have occurred, or are occurring, within child correctional facilities in Queensland.

If these claims are correct, it is an issue that we, as both individual practitioners and as a society, must speak out on.

That could mean that we seek to have the terms of any commission broadened to include Queensland, or even all Australian states, depending on the perceived extent of this problem. As Indigenous people and children are overly represented in our prison populations, it could mean seeking to have the commission’s ambit extended to the entire question of Indigenous youth justice, or even youth justice in its entirety.

However, as we all well know, the focal point for any investigation is the search for evidence.

Before any of us proceed on this path, we need the evidence that confirms the existence of a problem within Queensland worthy of address.

I am therefore asking you, our members, to tell me what you know about unacceptable treatment of children in Queensland correctional facilities. Without breaching client confidentiality, what can you tell me about how your child clients have been treated?

Can you source any evidence to indicate whether the alleged problem is systemic or isolated?

Please give this some thought, as it is an issue that should be of major concern for each and every one of us.

Thank you for your consideration and your time. Please email president@qls.com.au.

– Bill Potts, QLS president