11 September 2018
HERALD SUN - Melbourne
By Mark Buttler And James Dowling
WORKERS at the state's youth jails are being bashed at a rate higher than staff at adult maximum-security prisons.
Dozens of staff have been assaulted and more than 100 detainees attacked this year at the troubled Parkville Youth Justice Centre.
Figures obtained by the Herald Sun show 30 workers were assaulted by children in the year to August.
A new staff member was recently bashed by an inmate detained in connection with a murder. That inmate has been involved in other violent attacks within the system. There have been 115 episodes of teen-on-teen assaults recorded in the same period.
Youth prison workers under attack
Many of those involved a victim being bashed by multiple assailants.
Targets are often vulnerable inmates who have no chance against ganglinked offenders.
"It's always the weakest who are singled out," a source said.
Corrections Victoria sources said the use of restraint and isolation measures against inmates had been severely curtailed in recent years, leaving staff less able to control teens.
"It's 45 minutes in your bedroom with your TV. The kids have all the rights and the staff have none," a source said.
Staff say management are more worried about adverse findings from the children's welfare watchdog than controlling unruly inmates.
"They have the child services commissioner on them about hygiene," a source said.
"They are always worried about making sure the kids have showers and they don't stay in isolation for too long."
The source said inmates knew assaults usually would not mean more time in prison.
The Herald Sun has been told a special police taskforce is also investigating at least one sex assault at Parkville, in which a teenage boy was bound and gagged by another.
The Office of Public Prosecutions asked police to investigate after receiving a brief of evidence about the sex assault earlier this year.
Three youth justice workers were stood down after the attack.
Families and Children Minister Jenny Mikakos said the previous Coalition government had created a mess in youth justice and that reporting criteria had been tightened so many more incidents were captured in official data.
"The Liberals stuffed up youth justice - that's a fact," Ms Mikakos said.
Opposition families and children spokeswoman Georgie Crozier said it was time for the government to take responsibility and stop blaming previous administrations.
A department spokesman said the safety of youth justice staff was treated with the utmost seriousness.
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