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Review to probe Qld youth justice system

AAP logoAAP 19/08/2016 By Jamie McKinnell

Queensland's attorney-general will hold an independent review of the state's youth justice system so that damaging allegations of mistreatment can be "put to bed".

Amnesty International has claimed there exists a systemic "culture of abuse and secrecy" within youth detention in Queensland and released CCTV images showing alleged mistreatment in facilities, including Townsville's Cleveland Youth Detention Centre.

A former inmate, 17-year-old Russell Johnston, has also spoken out on the ABC this week about frequent torment by guards, regular bashings and racial abuse.

But Attorney-General Yvette D'Ath said she was restricted by law from responding to the allegations in "any meaningful way".

"I have confidence in our system and our youth justice system, but I need to make sure that the community has confidence in our system," Ms D'Ath said on Friday.

"I believe it is important to put these allegations to bed."

She will appoint two people to independently review the system and report back by November.

"The focus will firmly be on the practices, operation and oversight of Queensland's youth detention centres, specifically referring to the allegations raised last night."

Ms D'Ath has consistently defended Queensland's youth justice system since a royal commission was announced into allegations young people were abused in the Northern Territory's facilities.

There have been calls for the probe to be extended to Queensland.

Ms D'Ath again pointed out key differences between the systems in the NT and Queensland, including that young people in her state had access to phones, legal representatives, the Crime and Corruption Commission and the Queensland ombudsman.

She said the "confronting" images released this week were contained within a quarterly ethical standards unit report.

"These processes are in place to make sure that we don't have systemic problems," Ms D'Ath said.

"That doesn't mean that we won't have individual incidents."

The attorney-general encouraged anyone with complaints to raise them with authorities.

She said some staff had been dismissed in the past and the department had a zero tolerance to the inappropriate or unauthorised use of force.

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