27 Feb

Opinion: Ignorant change by the Queensland Government sees justice system again fail kids

The Queensland Government’s response to be tough on crime comes with a harsher cost to the lives of many children across the state, particularly those who have Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD), brain injuries, or other cognitive impairment.

“The Queensland Government’s ignorant change to override the Human Rights Act for harsher youth justice measures discriminates against Indigenous young people and young people impacted by a brain injury or other disabilities,” said Synapse’s Australia’s National Director, Adam Schickerling.

“Making this significant change out of fear will not crack down on crime or repeat offenders, but instead cause more harm for young Queenslanders that have already fallen foul of our social systems.

“Too frequently we see young people with brain injury failed by the school system and the out of home care system. These systems continue to exclude and isolate them and amplify vulnerability to a future of othering.

“It’s clear the community the Government is consulting with, are not Indigenous young people or those impacted by brain injury, whom our system continually discriminates against and criminalise in the name of alleged public safety.

“Such a decision should have seen significant consultation with those impacted by intergenerational trauma, disadvantage or poverty, or victims of violence and abuse.

“Synapse encourages greater conversations to understand why a child would commit these crimes and work with community organisations to identify practical and trauma-informed ways which help these children.

“Convicting children to longer sentences, and building more detention centres continues to permeate the systematic cycle of criminality which is a fear led response to community safety,” said Mr Schickerling.

“The FASD and youth justice study carried out at Banksia Detention Centre showed three in five prisoners at a minimum have FASD. The findings highlighted the vulnerability of young people in the justice system and the greater need to diagnose disability and mental health to help guide their rehabilitation. A stark example of the undeniable discrimination and othering of our legal and social systems that in fact perpetuates reoffending.”