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Queensland’s backwards step as government removes detention as last resort for children

The decision threatens progress on youth justice reform in the state.
01 May 2024

Save the Children Australia opposes a new Queensland Government move to remove the principle of detention as a last resort for children, with the change poised to further harm children and communities.

It comes a day after the announcement of a $1.28 billion Community Safety Plan, which has a strong focus on policing and punitive responses, but also commits some welcome new funding to prevention and early intervention, as well as domestic and family violence services.

Australia is a signatory to the Article 37 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which states “the arrest, detention or imprisonment of a child shall be in conformity with the law and shall be used only as a measure of last resort and for the shortest appropriate period of time”.
Queensland Premier Steven Miles had previously acknowledged that removing detention as a last resort would be “incredibly dangerous”, and pointed to the evidence that shows removing detention as a last resort would likely lead to reoffending by low-level offenders.
Mena Waller, Queensland Director of 54 reasons, which delivers Save the Children’s services in Australia, said the decision would impact some of the state’s most vulnerable children.
“The last thing we need are short-sighted approaches that put more children behind bars. “This kneejerk response threatens to cause further harm to children and communities, and hamper progress on youth justice reform in the state,” she said.
“Politicians must take the politics completely out of policy, and concentrate on prioritising alternatives to detention, investment in trauma-informed services, and upholding international human rights standards.”

“While we welcome the new funding in the Community Safety Plan for initiatives that support young people and victims of crime, we urge Queensland’s leaders to increase their focus on comprehensive, long-term plans that address root causes if they want to get serious about preventing youth crime and protecting communities.”


MEDIA CONTACT: Jess Brennan +61 421 334 918 or

Notes to Editors:

54 reasons, Save the Children’s Australian service delivery arm, works in almost 200 communities and locations in every Australian state and the Northern Territory. 54 reasons delivers quality services to children and families to support child development, diverts young people from the justice system, responds to domestic and family violence, and amplifies children’s voices and participation in decision making.

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