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Question: Youth Detention Numbers in SA

19 May 2022


The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: I seek leave to make a brief explanation before addressing a question without notice to the Attorney-General regarding children in detention.

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: In South Australia, young people aged between the ages of 10 and 18 can be remanded in or sentenced to youth detention. In 2021, I spoke in this place about a study from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare that revealed South Australia detains children at a higher rate than the national average. We also know that First Nations children are overly represented in youth detention and usually account for over half of those detained.

Last year, a report issued by the Guardian for Children and Young People found that children are sometimes held in custody at the City Watch House, which is an adult facility. The report stated that being detained in an adult facility was potentially exposing those with significant trauma backgrounds to unnecessary stress and risk. My question to the minister, therefore, is: how many children are currently in detention in South Australia, and are any of those currently being detained in adult facilities such as the City Watch House?

The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Attorney-General, Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector): I thank the honourable member for his question. It is an important one. I don't have direct portfolio responsibility for youth detention. That rests with my colleague the Minister for Human Services in another place. It does of course touch quite significantly upon my portfolio areas in the Attorney-General's and justice area and, unfortunately, as the honourable member has outlined, in the Aboriginal affairs area. I will refer those to my colleague in another place and bring back a reply as soon as I can.