OPG media release

8 September 2016

The Public Guardian welcomes the Queensland Government’s landmark decision

Yesterday’s historic decision by the Queensland Government to move 17-year-olds out of adult prisons has been welcomed by Queensland’s Public Guardian, Natalie Siegel-Brown.

The Public Guardian is an independent statutory office that protects the rights, interests and wellbeing of vulnerable Queenslanders, including children and young people staying in youth detention or adult correctional centres.

Appointed to the role in July, Ms Siegel-Brown has actively enquired into how Queensland’s community visitor program—managed by the Office of the Public Guardian—can further support the wellbeing of young people in prison.

“My office’s community visitor program has specific visiting, inspection and inquiry functions within adult prisons, with a focus on ensuring the human rights of young people in prison are being met. Internationally, these programs are recognised as a protective factor for human rights protections; however, one of the most pressing issues for my community visitors has been the incarceration of 17-year-olds in adult prisons.”

“Yesterday was truly a landmark day; Queensland finally treats 17-year-olds as having the same rights as any child.”
Queensland has faced grave criticism for its stance on incarcerating 17-year-olds in adult prisons, a direct contravention of the United Nations human rights charter and internationally condemned.

“I congratulate Premier Palaszczuk and Ministers D’Ath and Byrne for their progressive approach on this issue, and publicly acknowledge the efforts of so many non-government organisations who have tirelessly advocated for this day,” said Ms Siegel-Brown.