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Greens Call for End to Cruel Youth Detention Regimes

2 November 2023

The State Government has refused to commit to fast tracking a review of the Youth Treatment Orders scheme and will continue to hold drug-dependent children in Youth Detention Centres to receive mandatory treatment, the SA Greens have revealed in Question Time today.

On Tuesday, the Youth Treatment Order Visitor’s annual report was tabled in Parliament. The report found that the scheme set up to force detained children to receive drug treatment is “unconscionable” and "offends international human rights guarantees". It recommended that the scheme is ended and that the Kurlana Tapa Youth Justice Centre no longer be used as a secure holding facility for children and young people who primarily have therapeutic needs.

But in response to questions from Greens MLC Robert Simms the Attorney-General, Kyam Maher, advised Parliament that the Government will only review the scheme in November next year in accordance with legislative requirements and refused to commit to bringing it forward despite the damning findings of the report.

“The Youth Treatment Order Visitor’s report reveals a scheme that exposes vulnerable young people to trauma and harm and which is utterly indifferent to their basic human rights,” said Greens SA Justice Spokesperson Robert Simms MLC.

“It’s inexcusable for the State Government to say that it will sit on this report for a year before taking action to end this cruel scheme.”

A subsequent report by the Guardian for Children and Young People tabled in State Parliament today has found that in 2022-23, 39 young people under the age of 14 years were detained at the Kurlana Tapa Youth Justice Centre and raised serious concerns about the use of restraints and self-harm threatening children’s safety.

“These latest revelations are shocking and distressing. The State Government must act to end these cruel youth detention regimes and heed the call of the Guardian for Children and Young People to raise the age of criminal responsibility to 14.”

Mr Simms has a bill before parliament to raise the age of criminal responsibility in South Australia from 10 to 14. In August 2022 a petition with more than 11,000 signatures was presented to the Attorney-General in support of the reform.