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LIV welcomes Ombudsman report into solitary confinement of children and young people

LIV welcomes Ombudsman report into solitary confinement of children and young people

By LIV Media

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The Law Institute of Victoria welcomes the Victorian Ombudsman’s report into solitary confinement of children and young people in the youth justice system.

LIV President Stuart Webb said the report by Ombudsman Deborah Glass showed some disturbing practices in youth justice and prison which were “likely to be contrary to law, incompatible with Victoria’s human rights legislation, unjust, oppressive, discriminatory or simply, wrong”.

Mr Webb said it was encouraging that the Ombudsman had been given access to youth justice facilities to examine practices, and it was now time to come up with remedies to keep young offenders secure while maximising prospects of rehabilitation and return into the community.

In the Victorian Ombudsman’s second report into Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture (‘OPCAT’), the Ombudsman focuses her investigation into practises related to solitary confinement of children and young people. 

OPCAT was ratified in Australia in December 2017 to establish a system of regular independent visits by international and national bodies to closed environments such as prisons to prevent torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. Australia now joins 90 other countries who have ratified the United Nation’s Convention.

The report delves into the issues of implementing OPCAT in regard to solitary confinement of children and young people within three different closed facilities including an out of home care facility, a youth justice centre and an adult prison in Victoria.

“The LIV strongly supports the recommendations made by the Ombudsman including recognising the negative impacts solitary confinement has on children and young people,” Mr Webb said.

The LIV further endorses that separation and isolation in these facilities do not amount to ‘solitary confinement’ which is described as ‘physical isolation for 22 or more hours a day without meaningful human contact.’ (UN Standard Minimum rules for the Treatment of Prisoners) 

The LIV agrees with the Victorian’s Ombudsman’ recommendation to ensure that culturally supportive therapeutic spaces are implemented as an alternative to current practices of  separation, isolation or seclusion rooms in prisons, youth justice centres and secure welfares services.

The LIV endorses the report and commends the Victorian Ombudsman for continuing her efforts in implementing OPCAT and providing a thorough investigation into correctional and welfare facilities with the focus on children and young people.

The LIV looks forward to working with the Government in developing appropriate actions arising from the recommendations, given the years of practical experience our members have in working with young offenders.

Contact: Kerry O’Shea, Public Affairs Manager or Amanda Rajendra, Media & Communications Officer T: 03 9607 9597 E: media@liv.asn.au


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