This report into the use of force in Queensland's youth detention centres follows an investigation into six instances where young people sustained significant injuries.
The injuries experienced by the young people as a result of an application of use of force, ranged from fractures of the wrist to arm fractures and a dislocated shoulder.
Under the Commission for Children and Young People and Child Guardian Act 2000 (the Act), the Child Guardian – a function of the Commission – is responsible for monitoring and reviewing laws, policies and practices that relate to the delivery of services to children and young people. It has an obligation to give priority to the needs and interests of young people who are residing in detention in Queensland.
In fulfilling this responsibility, the Commission identified concerns about the use of force by staff of the former Department of Communities, now the Department of Justice and Attorney-General (the Department), at the two Queensland youth detention facilities located in Brisbane and Townsville.
The report makes 12 recommendations to the Department along the following three themes:
- Mechanisms in place to guide officers’ use of force when restraining young people in Queensland youth detention centres. Several recommendations were made in relation to the revision of policy, procedural and training materials available to staff to ensure they are an accurate reflection and aligned with the requirements of the legislation.
- Practice of departmental officers in exercising use of force on detained young people in Queensland youth detention centres. Several recommendations were made in relation to the appropriate application of the use of force and approved techniques, medical attention offered to young people following a use of force incident, and the lawful use of restraints.
- Outcomes experienced by young people in Queensland youth detention centres resulting from officers’ use of force. Recommendations were made in relation to providing a transparent, accountable and investigative, complaints and incident management system.
The evidence base for the investigation incorporated analysis of a variety of sources of data and information that inform the Commission’s monitoring and advocacy functions. This includes:
- reports following youth detention inspections conducted by the Department under section 263 of the Youth Justice Act 1992
- reports of harm and suspected harm in youth detention centres provided by the Department in accordance with section 37 of the Youth Justice Regulation 2003
- Commission Community Visitor reports completed after visits to young people in youth detention centres under Chapter 5 of the Commission’s Act, and
- complaints received by the Commission from young people detained in youth detention centres under Chapter 4 of the Commission’s Act.
The Commission will continue to work with the Department and monitor the implementation of the recommendations.