20.138 The NSW Ombudsman’s Inquiry into Juvenile Detention Centres in that State has been a valuable benchmarking study. The Inquiry considers that a similar study should be undertaken nationally. All youth detention centres should be audited for compliance with the national standards for juvenile justice and with human rights commitments. To ensure consistency, the audit should be undertaken on a national basis. The results of the audit should be published. Each jurisdiction should undertake a program of up-grading detention centres, their policies and their programs, on the basis of this audit.
Recommendation 281 Upon completion and endorsement of the national standards for juvenile justice, a national audit should be undertaken of every juvenile detention centre in Australia for compliance with those standards and with human rights commitments. The results of the audit should be published and each State and Territory government should undertake a program of up-grading detention centres, including policies and programs, on the basis of this audit.
Implementation. The Attorney-General through SCAG should encourage State and Territory governments to agree to the national audit of juvenile detention centres and provide the published results of the audit to OFC.
Collection of data
20.139 A number of different research bodies collect information on young people in detention. However, there is no comprehensive national data base on this. The AIC collates statistics from the States and Territories quarterly but this information is limited. The statistics encompass gender, age, status of detainee (remanded or sentenced) and Aboriginality but does not include offence, sentence or other demographic information.
20.140 Collection of data is particularly important in two areas. The first is recidivism rates for detainees. The NSW Department of Juvenile Justice published a collection of statistics relating to recidivism in 1996. A submission from the NSW Government to the Inquiry suggested that this could form a valuable model for a national research project. The Inquiry agrees. This information is essential to identify the kinds of programs that work most effectively and to build community support for those programs. The second area is information on young people from specific groups who enter detention. This data is required to inform policy and program development on the over-representation of certain groups and their particular needs in detention. This should include information about the numbers of children who are or have been in the care and protection system.
Recommendation 282 Information about recidivism rates for detainees should be collected and analysed on a national basis.
Implementation. States and Territories should collect this data through the most appropriate agency in each jurisdiction. The data should be provided to OFC for national analysis and scrutiny in conjunction with ABS and the AIC.
Recommendation 283 Information about the numbers of young people from specified groups who enter detention should be collected and subjected to national analysis and scrutiny. It should record the numbers of boys and girls, children from rural and remote areas, Indigenous children, the ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds of children, children who have been in the care and protection system, children with disabilities and any other groups of children who experience particular problems or have special needs within the detention system. The data should also include information about recidivism rates of young people from each group. The data should inform policy and program development in relation to all children and each group of children.
Implementation. This data should be collected by States and Territories through the most appropriate agency in each jurisdiction. The data should be provided to OFC for national analysis in conjunction with ABS and the AIC and incorporation into the national standards, policies and programs.
20.141 The Beijing Rules provide that professional education and training should be provided to all personnel dealing with young offenders. The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child has recognised the need for systematic training of professionals working with or for children in juvenile justice. To ensure that the national standards for juvenile justice are properly implemented, relevant officials should be trained in the application of the standards. The NSW Government noted that it had allocated $2.4 million for 1997–98 and 1998–99 for training front line community-based and custodial staff based on national competencies established by the AJJA. This should encompass training in relation to the National Design Guidelines and QOC Standards. The Inquiry considers that other States and Territories should ensure proper training for relevant officials working with young people in detention.
Recommendation 284 All those working with young people in detention should be trained in the application of the national standards for juvenile justice.
Implementation. Appropriate training programs should be developed by relevant State and Territory authorities in consultation with the OFC.
Recommendation 285 Official Visitors should be given training on the national standards for juvenile justice and be made aware of the procedural requirements in detention and of the advocacy needs of detainees.
Implementation. Each detention centre should provide this training.