20.115 Certain children have particular needs in relation to detention. For instance, young people from rural or remote areas who are sentenced to a period of detention are likely to be placed in a centre far from their family and community. Maintaining contact with their family and friends is therefore a particularly important need for these young people. Indigenous children and children from some ethnic backgrounds also have particular cultural needs. Their needs may include access to culturally relevant counselling, education and family reconciliation services.
20.116 The draft QOC Standards already provide for the particular needs of certain groups in detention. They deal with different cultural needs of detainees and the needs of children with disabilities. However, the standards should be more specific in relation to a number of groups at particular disadvantage in detention.
Children from rural or remote areas
20.117 Children who live in rural or remote areas face particular problems when they are placed in detention. There are few centres in rural areas in most Australian jurisdictions. As a result, detainees are likely to be placed in a centre far from their family and community. They may suffer a greater degree of dislocation than children from urban areas.
20.118 For these children, maintaining links with their families and communities through visits, work release and transitional programs is much more difficult. This can hinder the successful re-integration of these young people into the community following release from detention. The problems raised by this isolation are also problems felt most keenly by Indigenous children, many of whom reside in rural or remote areas.
20.119 The particular needs of Indigenous children are catered for to a limited extent in juvenile detention centres. One of the fundamental problems Indigenous detainees face is that detention centres in Australia are often located far from their communities. The Inquiry was repeatedly told of the difficulties this causes Indigenous children and their families.
20.120 Particular concern was expressed about the lack of detention centres in rural areas in Western Australia and the Northern Territory. Because all young people in detention in those jurisdictions are held in custody in Perth and Darwin, Indigenous children are often moved hundreds and, in some cases, thousands of kilometres away from their communities. The Inquiry was told that not one of the eight Indigenous children in Don Dale Centre in Darwin had received a visitor during their period of detention. Four of the children were from communities more than a thousand kilometres from the centre. The NSW Ombudsman also pointed to research conducted in NSW into juvenile detention centres which revealed that, of the 33 Indigenous young people surveyed
eight were ten or more hours from their home and community
eight said they had received no visits from their families and
two stated that it had been fifteen and eighteen months respectively since they had seen their families.
Isolation has also been identified as a major problem by the National Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children From Their Families report, particularly as Indigenous children are more likely to come from a rural or remote area.
20.121 Some jurisdictions have instituted measures to provide for the special needs of Indigenous children. A submission from the Townsville Community Legal Service noted that some prisons have installed video conferencing to allow com-munication with communities in remote regions. The submission suggested that this measure be extended to all youth detention facilities. The Inquiry was also told that Don Dale Centre in the Northern Territory liaises with the local com-munities of Indigenous detainees in assessing their particular needs. A number of detention procedures manuals and policies also point to the need for culturally appropriate detention. Queensland’s policy document provides that Indigenous agencies and community members should be actively involved in the design and delivery of services and that Indigenous detention centre staff should be employed to reflect the numbers of detained Indigenous children. Victoria reports that it has trained all direct care workers in Indigenous culture. Western Australia has piloted an Aboriginal Supervision Program. NSW also has piloted an Aboriginal mentor program covering detention centres, which is currently being evaluated. A recent media report criticised staff cuts made to the program.
20.122 A number of submissions to the Inquiry indicated that proper imple-mentation of these programs and policies may not be occurring. One submission stated that programs for Indigenous children in detention tended to be mere ‘lip service’. A similar view was expressed in a submission from the Law Society of NSW which pointed out that
[w]hile programs relating to indigenous children have a high profile on paper, they are not implemented properly, in a majority of cases, because of insufficient funding and support, together with insufficient involvement of the child’s own community.
The submission from the Aboriginal Legal Service of Western Australia noted that comments provided to them from Indigenous children in detention indicated that a culturally appropriate environment may not exist in some juvenile detention centres.
I hate it inside. The guards look down on us Aboriginal kids. I know its not good for the white kids but we have it worse. They treat us like animals. They don’t think we have a brain. They think all Aborigines are crooks. I remember last time I got out of jail, one of the guards said he looked forwarding to seeing me back soon. He had a smile when he said it.
It is hard for my family to visit me. They are scared of prison and white authorities. Dad has been in prison a few times and mum was at New Norcia. Dad was in a mission up near Broome. It was just like a prison. My brother is in Casuarina now. When my mum and dad come to visit me they get really upset and scared. It must be all the bad memories from their childhood and dad’s stay in prison. The prison officers don’t help. They are not friendly. We don’t trust them.
20.123 A report by the Youth Justice Coalition in 1990 recommended that the number of Indigenous staff in detention centres be increased, including in management positions. While Indigenous staffing levels have improved, the numbers are not in proportion to the percentage of Indigenous detainees as compared to non-Indigenous detainees. The small numbers of Indigenous staff in detention centres may stem from a reluctance on the part of adult Indigenous people to be employed in a custodial role. A submission to the Inquiry pointed out that perhaps Indigenous involvement would be better facilitated as support persons.
20.124 Evidence to the Inquiry emphasised the need for more awareness of Indigenous kinship systems and the importance of the extended family. A submission noted that, while Indigenous detainees are given assistance with literacy, numeracy and work skills, they should also be encouraged to study their own culture. Other submissions called for employment of Indigenous juvenile justice and probation officers and greater involvement of Indigenous com-munities in providing services to Indigenous children in detention, such as culturally appropriate counselling, social, cultural and educational programs.
Detention of children from non-English speaking backgrounds
20.125 Over the last decade there has been increasing representation in detention of children from certain non-English speaking backgrounds in some jurisdictions. Common problems faced by these children include language barriers, lack of knowledge by staff of detention centres of the young person’s culture and traditions, alienation of the offender from his or her parents, family and community and the lack of appropriate programs and services. Submissions to the Inquiry stressed the importance of providing children from non-English speaking backgrounds with access to culturally relevant counselling, education and family reconciliation services and employing juvenile justice and probation officers from non-English speaking backgrounds.
20.126 Legislation and policy in some jurisdictions are beginning to respond to the specific needs of children from these groups through the provision of information in languages other than English and interpreters. The draft QOC standards also make provision in a number of areas for children from non-English speaking backgrounds. However, access to these services depends very much on each individual detention centre. National monitoring of implementation of the standards is needed.
Girls in detention
20.127 A number of submissions to the Inquiry emphasised that girls have particular needs in detention. For instance, it is important for young women in detention to have access to female case workers. The particular needs of girls in detention have been recognised in some detention centre policy and procedures documents. However, the number of girls in detention is very small. As one submission pointed out, this means that girls in larger male-dominated institutions often find that the management, staff training and programs cater primarily for the majority male population. Consequently, girls often become marginalised in the system. Commentators have also noted that girls admitted to detention can have serious social, emotional and health problems and that their small numbers often mean that they are not given priority in allocation of resources. This is significant in terms of Australia’s human rights obligations. The Beijing Rules require that the personal needs and problems of girls should be given attention.
Recommendation 277 The national standards in juvenile justice should provide for the development of programs and services in all jurisdictions to address the needs of particular groups of children in detention including children from non-English speaking backgrounds, Indigenous children, children from rural and remote areas and girls in detention.
 The needs of particular groups of children in general are discussed at paras 4.52–65.
 eg Draft QOC Standards 1.3.1; 2.2.1–2.2.4; 4.1.8; 4.5.1–4.5.4. See also paras 20.47, 20.58, 20.66–67.
 See para 20.36. See also paras 4.52–53.
 See paras 2.16, 4.58.
 B White Public Hearing Submission Kalgoorlie 4 July 1996; Aboriginal Legal Service of WA IP Submission 75; Aboriginal Justice Council of WA IP Submission 79; Oz Child Legal Service IP Submission 195; Church Network for Youth Justice IP Submission 212.
 Northern Australia Aboriginal Legal Service Minutes of Meeting Darwin 16 July 1996; B White Public Hearing Submission Kalgoorlie 4 July 1996.
 Northern Australia Aboriginal Legal Service Minutes of Meeting Darwin 16 July 1996.
 NSW Ombudsman Inquiry into Juvenile Detention Centres vol 1 NSW Ombudsman Sydney 1996, 71.
 Bringing Them Home HREOC Sydney 1997, 535–6.
 Townsville Community Legal Service Submission 181.
 Don Dale Youth Detention Centre Minutes of Meeting Darwin 16 July 1996.
 The Integrated Approach: The Philosophy and Directions of Juvenile Detention Qld Corrective Services Commission Brisbane 1997, 15.
 ibid 19.
 New Directions for Juvenile Justice VicDept of Health and Community Services Melbourne June 1995 Pub No 92/0154.
 A Wells ‘New directions in juvenile justice in WA’ Paper Juvenile Crime and Juvenile Justice: Towards 2000 and Beyond Conference AIC Adelaide 26 – 27 June 1997. This program has been piloted in two metropolitan and one country location. It targets young offenders between 16 and 21. Co-ordinators in each area work with young offenders and their families to identify and support suitable family mentors.
 D Jopson ‘Black mentor program chopped’ The Sydney Morning Herald 26 July 1997, 13.
 Aboriginal Legal Service WA IP Submission 75; Law Society of NSW IP Submission 209; Church Network for Youth Justice IP Submission 212.
 Church Network for Youth Justice IP Submission 212. See alsoNorthern Australia Aboriginal Legal Service Minutes of Meeting Darwin 16 July 1996.
 Law Society of NSW IP Submission 209.
 Child, aged 15 years, comments made to Aboriginal Legal Service of WA IP Submission 75.
 Child, aged 14 years, comments made to Aboriginal Legal Service of WA IP Submission 75.
 NSW Youth Justice Coalition Kids in Justice: A Blueprint for the 90s: Youth Justice Coalition Sydney 1990 rec 197.
 Church Network for Youth Justice IP Submission 212. See also L Atkinson ‘ Juvenile correctional institutions’ in A Borowski & I O’Connor (eds) Juvenile Crime, Justice and Corrections Longman Melbourne 1997, 412.
 See L Atkinson ‘Juvenile correctional institutions’ in A Borowski & I O’Connor Juvenile Crime, Justice and Corrections Longman Melbourne 1997, 413. This paper notes that problems faced in finding Indigenous people willing to work as custodial staff is not surprising given their collective experience of the punitive and extensive use of the criminal justice system.
 Law Society of NSW IP Submission 209.
 Central Australian Aboriginal Legal Service Minutes of Meeting Alice Springs 19 July 1996.
 Church Network for Youth Justice IP Submission 212.
 S Scarlett IP Submission 27.
 Aboriginal Legal Service of WA IP Submission 75.
 See paras 2.119–120. See also P Reberger Public Hearing Submission Sydney 26 April 1996; L Atkinson ‘Juvenile correctional institutions’ in A Borowski & I O’Connor (eds) Juvenile Crime, Justice and Corrections Longman Melbourne 1997, 407; M Cain Juveniles in Detention: Special Needs Groups NSW Dept of Juvenile Justice Sydney 1994.
 SA Multicultural & Ethnic Affairs Commission IP Submission 86; SA Dept of Family and Community Services IP Submission 110.See also paras 4.54–57.
 S Scarlett IP Submission 27.
 eg Juvenile Justice Regulation 1993(Qld) reg 11 provides that if a child has difficulty understanding English, the chief executive must take reasonable steps to ensure that the child understands his or her rights and responsibilities which may entail providing an interpreter to explain or supplying an explanatory note in English or another language. See also Secure Care Standard Procedures SA Dept of Family and Community Services Adelaide procedures 13, 26; The Integrated Approach: The Philosophy and Directions of Juvenile Detention Qld Corrective Services Commission Brisbane 1997, 20; M Cain Juveniles in Detention: Special Needs Groups NSW Dept of Juvenile Justice Sydney 1994, 52.
 eg Draft QOC Standard 1.3.1 provides, in relation to complaints procedures, that young people from non-English speaking backgrounds should have access to interpreters or have the procedures available in their native language.
 eg S Scarlett IP Submission 27; Office of Status of Women IP Submission 82; Townsville Community Legal Service IP Submission 181; Church Network for Youth Justice IP Submission 212;Confidential IP Submission 215.
 Confidential IP Submission 215. The submission emphasised that separate detention of young women enables their needs to be catered for more effectively and pointed to the Young Women in Custody Program at the Yasmar Juvenile Justice Centre in NSW as a model. However, it also noted that bringing all girls under one facility may mean some girls are further away from their family and friends. The submission noted that this is why detention, particularly for women, should be a last resort and why preference should be given to diversionary programs for them.
 The Integrated Approach: The Philosophy and Directions of Juvenile Detention Qld Corrective Services Commission Brisbane 1997, 20; Ashley Youth Detention Centre Manual (draft) Tas Dept Community and Health Services Hobart 1997 Pt 2.18.
 Confidential IP Submission 215.
 E Moore ‘Alternatives to secure detention for girls’ in L Atkinson & S Gerrull (eds) National Conference on Juvenile Detention AIC Canberra 1993, 140.
 L Atkinson ‘Juvenile correctional institutions’ in A Borowski & I O’Connor (eds) Juvenile Crime, Justice and Corrections Longman Melbourne 1997.
 r 26.4. This rule states that ‘Young female offenders placed in an institution deserve special attention as to their personal needs and problems. They shall by no means receive less care, protection, assistance, treatment and training than young male offenders. Their fair treatment shall be ensured.’