Chil­dren in youth de­ten­tion de­serve to re­tain their pri­vacy

Central and North Burnett Times - - YOUR SAY -

RE­CENT com­ments call­ing upon the Queens­land Govern­ment to re­lease the youth de­ten­tion re­port in full to re­store pub­lic con­fi­dence con­cern me.

The Pub­lic Guardian acts to pro­tect the rights and in­ter­ests of chil­dren and young peo­ple be­ing held in youth de­ten­tion and adult cor­rec­tional fa­cil­i­ties, and I be­lieve thought must be given to the sig­nif­i­cant trauma that many of th­ese young peo­ple have ex­pe­ri­enced and how the pub­lic re­lease of per­sonal and iden­ti­fy­ing in­for­ma­tion may im­pact on their lives now and into the fu­ture.

Chil­dren and young peo­ple in youth de­ten­tion have ev­ery right to their pri­vacy and I am pleased with the de­ci­sion to redact this in­for­ma­tion from the re­port.

I un­der­stand the pub­lic may be­lieve the govern­ment has taken steps to hide po­ten­tial prob­lems within the youth jus­tice sys­tem.

There is no doubt it is dif­fi­cult for chil­dren and young peo­ple to dis­close in­ci­dents where they have been, or are be­ing, sub­jected to harm or abuse in any set­ting.

This un­der­scores the im­por­tance of an in­de­pen­dent ad­vo­cate, with full ac­cess to the child or young per­son and the proper au­thor­ity to re­solve is­sues then and there.

My com­mu­nity vis­i­tors visit youth de­ten­tion cen­tres at least weekly, and some­times twice a week.

At ev­ery visit, com­mu­nity vis­i­tors have ready ac­cess to all units within a youth de­ten­tion cen­tre and to in­for­ma­tion held.

My com­mu­nity vis­i­tors can also con­duct unan­nounced vis­its to a youth de­ten­tion cen­tre.

I am com­mit­ted to work­ing with other over­sight bod­ies in­clud­ing the Queens­land Fam­ily and Child Com­mis­sion, Queens­land Om­buds­man and the Crime and Cor­rup­tion Com­mis­sion to en­sure the voices and ex­pe­ri­ences of chil­dren and young peo­ple in youth de­ten­tion in the child pro­tec­tion sys­tem are heard.

This whole in­quiry em­pha­sises to me the vi­tal role that over­sight and in­de­pen­dent ad­vo­cacy such as that pro­vided by the Pub­lic Guardian plays in the pro­tec­tion of this state’s most vul­ner­a­ble chil­dren and young peo­ple. — Natalie Siegel-Brown, Of­fice of the Pub­lic Guardian

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