Statement from the Public Guardian

Public Guardian welcomes announcement of QFCC systemic review of the use of police watchhouses in the youth justice system  

Friday 17 February 2023

Queensland’s Public Guardian Shayna Smith has welcomed the announcement of the system review into the drivers that result in Queensland children entering and remaining in watchhouses by the Queensland Family and Child Commission (QFCC) today (Friday 17 February 2023).

“This review is something I have previously raised with the QFCC and Queensland Human Rights Commission and our office will support this review in any way we can.”

“Our Office has held long standing concerns about the prolonged stays of children in watchhouses. A watchhouse is not conducive to the safety and psychological wellbeing of children,” Ms Smith said.

Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) Community Visitors visit children detained in watchhouses and raise issues or formal complaints on their behalf to promote and protect their rights and interests.

In 2021-22 Community Visitors raised 727 issues on behalf of children detained in watchhouses. These issues were often about prolonged stays.

“The number of children in watchhouses – particularly for prolonged periods - is not acceptable. We will continue to raise the voices of these children and advocate on their behalf by bringing the physical and emotional impacts caused by prolonged stays in watchhouses to the attention of relevant government and oversight agencies.

“By working with other agencies, including supporting the QFCC review, we will continue to raise the views and experiences of children in detention so they can help shape a better youth justice system for the future – a system that addresses the underlying causes of youth crime and reduces the need for any child to be detained,” Ms Smith said.