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'Get to bottom' of Qld mistreatment claims

AAP logoAAP 18/08/2016

The national children's commissioner is urging Queensland authorities to review how it oversees youth detention centres following reports inmates were mistreated.

An ABC investigation has revealed the state government's own youth detention inspectorate found evidence excessive force was used at the Cleveland centre in Townsville but there was no formal review due to "insufficient resources".

"I think it's really important the Queensland government get to the bottom of this," commissioner Megan Mitchell said on Friday.

It was unacceptable incidents of excessive force had not been investigated, she said.

"We spend as a nation millions if not billions of dollars on juvenile justice facilities ... and we really need to know the children who are in these places are actually getting a therapeutic response that helps them get back on track and are not being abused in those situations."

Ms Mitchell does not support calls by some that the royal commission into youth detention centres in the Northern Territory should be expanded to include Queensland.

"If you then say it's an Australia-wide thing, well then you're going to have a royal commission that possibly goes for years and doesn't deliver."

One series of CCTV images obtained by the ABC shows a boy, 17, being held face down by five adults. He was handcuffed, ankle-cuffed, stripped naked then left alone in isolation for more than an hour.

The incident was prompted by the boy refusing to have a shower.

Images from another incident caught on CCTV footage show a girl in a swimming pool being threatened by security guards with an un-muzzled dog.

The images are contained within internal government reports written in 2013 and 2015 by the Youth Detention Inspectorate.

Amnesty International received the reports under Freedom of Information laws.

"It's clear that this is a national issue, children in detention are being mistreated and they are predominantly indigenous children," said Amnesty's indigenous rights campaigner.

The Law Council of Australia has called on all state and territory governments to independently review their juvenile detention systems.

But it doesn't support an extension of the NT royal commission, saying a national inquiry would require considerable resources and take too long.

"There are enough matters of concern to suggest there is a real need for a review of children in detention, the detention centres, the way they operate," council president Stuart Clark told ABC radio.

As well the federal government should ratify the United Nations Convention Against Torture (and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment) which would require independent review and monitoring mechanisms.

Mr Clark also highlighted the disproportionate numbers of indigenous youths - two out of three - being held in Queensland detention centres.

"There's something clearly wrong," he said, noting many were being detained as they awaited trial or sentencing.

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