Qld Indigenous child jail rate criticised

Stuart Layt

Amnesty International has urged the Queensland government to immediately accept a key finding of its review of the youth justice system and reduce the number of Indigenous children in detention.

The review, by former Police Commissioner Bob Atkinson, made 77 recommendations with a focus on reducing the number of children being incarcerated.

One of the recommendations was raising the age of criminal responsibility in Queensland from 10 to 12 years, however Amnesty International Indigenous Rights Campaigner Belinda Lowe said raising it to 14 would be more appropriate.

"Small children under the age of fourteen belong in the community, not in prison. The age must be raised to 14 as soon as possible," Ms Lowe said.

"Given the over representation of Indigenous kids there isn't enough focus on Indigenous solutions and the leadership of Indigenous people and organisations in the reform."

Amnesty international said Indigenous children were 30 times more likely to be locked up than their non-Indigenous peers for a range of complex reasons.

The Queensland Law Society meanwhile has welcomed the report, saying it matches its campaign for reform of youth justice to keep young people out of the youth justice system.

"We know that youth offenders have a great chance of rehabilitation if given the opportunity and we are heartened Mr Atkinson's recommendations support that belief," QLS President Ken Taylor said.

Mr Atkinson said on Friday the report had a "tight time frame" after being commissioned in February, and as a result the recommendations would now be put to several communities across the state for feedback, before the government decides on its youth justice strategy later this year.