IMPORTANT CHANGES: Cherbourg Elder, Bevan Costello, was on the advisory panel that recommended the State Government move 17-year-old offenders out of adult jail and into juvenile detention.
IMPORTANT CHANGES: Cherbourg Elder, Bevan Costello, was on the advisory panel that recommended the State Government move 17-year-old offenders out of adult jail and into juvenile detention. Michael Nolan

Justice changes bring 'brighter future' for our youth

AS OF Monday, February 12, all 17-year-olds held in jail will be transferred from the adult prison population back to the juvenile justice system.

About 70 young people will qualify for the transfer.

This is one of the measures that will bring Queensland in line with the rest of Australia in terms of how we treat young offenders.

Minister for Child Safety, Youth and Women, Di Farmer, said implementation of the reforms fulfilled the government's commitment to breaking the cycle of youth offending.

"The government will continue to drive reforms that tackle the causes and the consequences of offending by children and young people,” Ms Farmer said.

"We will do everything we can to turn them away from a life of crime and the harms and costs to the community that results.

"We can't give up on them having a brighter future.”

All 17-year-olds on community-based orders will transfer to Youth Justice supervision and all 17-year-olds in adult custody will be eligible for transfer to a youth detention centre, if it is in the child's best interest and safe to do so.

Court proceedings will transfer to the youth justice system if it is the first time the matter is before the court, following the completion of a hearing, where the hearing has been part-heard and where a community-based order is breached.

The aim is to get more young people out of remand and back into the community where they can access better rehabilitation services.

Supervised bail accommodation centres will be established to provide young offenders with a safe and secure place to live if it is not appropriate for them to return to the family home.

State-wide, about $199million will be spent on new infrastructure and rehabilitation support services for young offenders.

"Many children involved in the youth justice system come from complex and difficult backgrounds, including 80 per cent not attending school regularly, 85 per cent impacted by ice and 60 per cent disengaged from their families,” Ms Farmer said.

Cherbourg Elder, Uncle Bevan Costello, sits on the advisory board that recommended the changes.

He serves on Barambah Justice Group, is a member of the Murri Court and works at the men's hub helping to rehabilitate families affected by domestic violence.

He said adult prison was no place for young people as it left them more traumatised and anti-social.

"They're not mature enough, 17-year-olds, their physical appearance might look as though they're of age,” he said.

"The other reason is, being in a prison where there's murderers and proper criminals, they are learning bad habits, that's going to make them a worse sort of a person when they get out of there.”

Uncle Bevan said there was no real support in adult prison for schooling, mental health and counselling.

"In a youth detention centre they have timelines they have to stick to, they do schooling, they're working to a routine, they're being taught life skills,” he said.

While there are supervised bail houses included in the funding package, none will be set up near the Burnett.

Uncle Bevan said this needed to change to break the cycle of crime.

"That's one of the main reasons why a lot of our people are still locked up.

"They've done their time but they won't be released because they come back here and there's no appropriate accommodation,” he said.

"In other words, they just slide straight back into where they were and that will start the offending again.”

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