“Queensland’s ‘Tough on Crime’ Approach Criticized as ‘Race to the Bottom’ for Children’s Rights”

Australia, Human Rights

Article: In the lead-up to the Queensland election, the ‘tough on crime’ policies being promoted have been slammed as a “race to the bottom” by National Children’s Commissioner, Anne Hollonds, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Katie Kiss. The commissioners argue that locking up children is not only ineffective in creating safer communities but also contributes to more crime, as well as perpetuating racial profiling and negative stereotyping.

Queensland already has the strictest youth crime laws in the country, which has led to overcrowded children’s prisons and police watchhouses, as well as breaches of human rights. It costs over $1 million per year to incarcerate a child, a sum Commissioner Hollonds argues would be better spent on improving children’s health, housing, education, and poverty reduction.

First Nations children are disproportionately affected by the failing ‘tough on crime’ approach, with governments being urged to make decisions based on evidence that improves their lives. Commissioner Kiss emphasizes the importance of addressing Indigenous disadvantage and restoring dignity, connection to kin and country, and hope for a better future.

Commissioner Hollonds’ upcoming report, “Help Way Earlier! How Australia can transform child justice to improve safety and wellbeing”, is set to be released in late August, providing further insights into the issue.