Advocates say the Palaszczuk Government’s crackdown on youth justice is a “shortcut” approach that fails to respect children’s rights.
Advocates say the Palaszczuk Government’s crackdown on youth justice is a “shortcut” approach that fails to respect children’s rights.

‘Attack on child rights’: Advocates oppose youth crackdown

A coalition of children's advocates have voiced their strong opposition to the government's youth justice crackdown, arguing it is punitive and doesn't respect children's rights.

A day after the government announced its response to the horrific hit-and-run deaths of Matty Field, Kate Leadbetter and their unborn child and the subsequent car smash that killed aspiring police woman Jennifer Board, their joint statement decried the focus on law and order measures.

Queensland Council of Social Services chief executive Aimee McVeigh said the "shortcut" approach didn't appropriately consider the rights of children, including the right to freedom of movement, privacy and non-discrimination.

Queensland Council of Social Services chief executive Aimee McVeigh. Picture: Richard Gosling
Queensland Council of Social Services chief executive Aimee McVeigh. Picture: Richard Gosling

"Our Human Rights Act also explicitly says that a child who has been convicted of an offence must be treated in a way that is appropriate for the child's age," she said.

"There is no evidence that these rights have been considered in this new announcement."

Ms McVeigh said the community sector "has the solutions" and could deliver programs with government to break the cycle of recidivism connected with poverty and disadvantage.

"The correct approach requires time, money and commitment," she said.

"There are no shortcuts.

"The Government commenced this process with the implementation of the Atkinson Report, and they should continue with that strategy without these changes."

Save the Children executive director Matt Gardiner said early intervention programs prevented crime.

 

Save the Children executive director Matt Gardiner.
Save the Children executive director Matt Gardiner.

 

 

"We need to take this seriously as a community and use things that work, not punitive measures that are shown to increase the likelihood of repeat offending," he said.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Service Queensland chief executive Shane Duffy said the plan ignored the need for greater investment in services.

"The Government should be focusing its efforts on investing in services that address the underlying causes of crime, namely social and economic disadvantage, not ramping up more punitive measures," he said.

 

Queensland Police Minister Mark Ryan says it is important that the State Government cracks down on youth crime. Picture: Dan Peled
Queensland Police Minister Mark Ryan says it is important that the State Government cracks down on youth crime. Picture: Dan Peled

 

 

But Police Minister Mark Ryan called them important changes.

"These are changes which will bring down a harder, more severe approach to these serious recidivist offenders," he said.

"It's important that we do that.

 

 

 

"The community wants it but we also need to ensure that this small cohort which is inflicting so much damage on our community is accountable for their actions and know that their actions are unacceptable and that there is consequence for their actions."

Originally published as 'Attack on child rights': Advocates oppose youth crime crackdown


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