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Youth detention regime costs almost $1.4 million a year per child

6 September 2022

South Australian taxpayers spent almost $4,000 a day per child in youth detention between 2021 and 2022, the SA Greens have revealed in Question Time today.

The Attorney-General, Kyam Maher, advised parliament today that taxpayers were spending $3,827 a day per child (which equates to almost $1.4 million for a child detained for a full year) to keep children in youth detention, in response to questions from Greens MLC Robert Simms. The Attorney-General revealed that there were 50 children held in detention at various times across 2021 to 2022.

“Rather than spending millions of dollars on detaining children, the Government should be spending money on early intervention and diversion programs that actually work,” said Mr Simms.

“South Australian taxpayers will be astounded that so much money is being spent on this youth detention regime. Not only is it morally wrong, but it’s also costing an extraordinary amount of public money. The Government should raise the age of criminal responsibility and heed the call of the United Nations and other bodies.”

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