Media statement 28 April 2017

28 April 2017

The comments that youth advocates have called upon the Queensland Government to release the youth detention report in full to restore public confidence concern me (Censorship of report into youth ‘insulting’ Courier Mail, Apr 28 2017).

The Public Guardian acts to protect the rights and interests of children and young people being held in youth detention and adult correctional facilities, and I believe thought must be given to the significant trauma that many of these young people have experienced, and how the public release of personal and identifying information may impact on their lives now and into the future.

Children and young people in youth detention have every right to their privacy and I am pleased with the decision to redact this information from the report.

I understand that the public may believe that the government has taken steps to hide potential problems within the youth justice system.

There is no doubt that it is difficult for children and young people to disclose incidents where they have, or are being subjected to harm or abuse in any setting. This underscores the importance of an independent advocate, with full access to the child or young person - and the proper authority - to resolve issues then and there.

My community visitors visit youth detention centres at least weekly; and sometimes twice a week. At every visit, community visitors have ready access to all units within a youth detention centre and to information held. My community visitors can also conduct unannounced visits to a youth detention centre.

I am committed to working with other oversight bodies including the Queensland Family and Child Commission, Queensland Ombudsman and the Crime and Corruption Commission to ensure that the voices and experiences of children and young people in youth detention in the child protection system are heard.

This whole inquiry emphasizes to me the vital role that oversight and independent advocacy such as that provided by the Public Guardian, plays in the protection of this State’s most vulnerable children and young people.

Natalie Siegel-Brown, Public Guardian
Office of the Public Guardian