Commission for Children and Young People: The Same Four Walls

Written on the 11 May 2017

10 May 2017


Statements on reports and papers 


GEORGIE CROZIER (LIB - Southern Metropolitan)

I am going to make a few comments in relation to the Commission for Children and Young People's recent report on the inquiry into the use of isolation, separation and lockdowns in the Victorian youth justice system, entitled The Same Four Walls. This is a damning report on the current situation that is occurring in youth justice. I think Victorians are well aware of the many issues and concerns that have arisen in recent times under the current minister and this government and the absolute failures and what is occurring in youth justice.

The commissioner for children and young people makes comments, and the Aboriginal commissioner for children and young people, Andrew Jackomos, also makes some comments, in this very extensive report on the issues that have occurred in youth justice. The report focuses on a period between February 2015 and July 2016. The review in the executive summary says:

The review focused on whether the Department of Health and Human Services complied with legislation and policies that regulate use of these practices, noting the significant impact they have on the rights and wellbeing of children and young people.

In relation to what has occurred, time and time again the report states that there were significant impacts and that when they were conducting the review there was data that was provided by the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), they reviewed CCTV footage, examined various reports and documents and literature on isolation practices and visited, speaking to both staff and those young offenders that were placed in the facility and got information which is all recorded in this very extensive report, as I have said. But what is alarming I think is that the report also states:

Our inquiry was significantly hampered by deficiencies in record keeping, some of which have been acknowledged by DHHS. Data we requested was often incomplete or internally inconsistent.

If you look at the various examples in the report, they pretty much go to that effect too. We know that from the data that is being provided the data that the minister keeps saying they are so transparent in providing. One can only question how on earth they can back that up, with the latest quarterly figures for category 1 incident reporting in the youth justice custodial settings that were put up by the DHHS just a few weeks ago. In that data, for the period between 1 January and 31 March of this year there were zero client deaths, 18 assaults, seven behavioural incidents and six other incident types.

With those figures I have to question the accuracy and the whole reporting mechanism that is going on, because we know what has occurred in the youth justice facility in those three months alone. We look at the riots that occurred in Parkville on 7 January and the extensive damage that occurred at that point in time, and of course that followed on from the very extensive riots of 2016, and then of course we had the mass escape from Malmsbury on 25 January, where 30 young offenders were involved. Fifteen escaped 15 of those young offenders who caused significant safety risks to many, many Victorians. A number of these young offenders were going across Victoria. They were carjacking and they were conducting some very violent crimes to innocent Victorians in the south-eastern suburbs. They travelled around 1000 kilometres, and it took 24 hours for them to be contained by police.

This was the most extraordinary set of circumstances that occurred from that one event. Yet that very severe mass escape is not reflected in any way in these reporting numbers that the minister provides. The minister keeps saying that she is so transparent and committed to transparency. You have to question her ability you have to question her motives, actually to be putting these figures on a website that is there for all Victorians to see. Who on earth does she think she is kidding? It is absolutely flawed data. I have got more to say on this report. I realise my time has now expired, but there are many issues in this report in relation to staff shortages, which I will return to in the next sitting week.

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