Proposed youth justice laws concerning

Queensland Law Society has warned the community will be put more at risk by the proposed new youth justice laws which will have a devastating impact on children.

QLS President Rebecca Fogerty, Children’s Law Committee Chair Damian Bartholomew, and First Nations Legal Policy and Human Rights and Public Law Committee member Keryn Ruska, will appear at today’s Community Safety and Legal Affairs Committee hearing for the Bill at Parliament House.

“QLS has always advocated for evidence-based policy, and children and young people who need support to get their lives back on track are being treated like a political football, amid heightened fear in the Queensland community about crime,” Rebecca said.

“QLS supports measures that enhance community safety. All Queenslanders have a right to be and feel safe in our community and deserve well-considered, evidence-based solutions to address the complexities of crime.

“However, QLS has significant concerns that the current proposals will not increase community safety and will have a devastating impact on all children, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, who are over-represented in the child protection, youth justice, and criminal justice systems.

“Increased penalties do not deter criminal behaviour. Research shows that punishment and imprisonment not only fail to deter but, in fact, increase crime. This is evident with the Queensland Productivity Commission report into imprisonment, finding recidivism rates in Queensland are increasing.


“This legislation will not address the underlying drivers of crime, which would be best served by investment in and expansion of early intervention initiatives, diversionary options, restorative justice, and rehabilitation programs.

“If passed, this Bill will put further strain on our overpopulated youth detention centres and watch houses, which are dangerous environments for young people and staff.”

QLS has serious concerns about the proposal to transfer 17-year-olds to adult prisons, which are overcrowded, unsafe places for young people and do not host the appropriate programs and interventions needed for their rehabilitation.

Also QLS does not support the removal of the court’s discretion to exclude victims, when necessary, from the Childrens Court. There are some instances where a victim should be excluded from the Childrens Court, and the judicial discretion to allow this should be maintained. For example, a child who has been subjected to sexual abuse and then commits a property offence against their abuser should not have to face their abuser in the courtroom.

The Society supports strong guidelines to ensure confidentiality provisions are effective in relation to the opening of the Childrens Court to the media and the public, as identifying youth offenders can jeopardise their opportunity to become productive community members in the future.

The QLS submission on the Queensland Community Safety Bill 2024 can be found here.

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