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Vic riot teens need to break cycle: union

AAP logoAAP 16/11/2016 Kaitlyn Offer and Melissa Meehan

Moving teenage criminals into Victoria's maximum security adult prison will "break the cycle of violence", says the union representing traumatised staff in the besieged youth justice system.

More than 40 young offenders will be moved to a secure unit within Barwon Prison following weekend riots at Melbourne's youth detention centre.

The Grevillea unit will house the teens for a "number of months" while fortification and repair works are done at the Parkville Youth Justice Centre, Families and Children Minister Jenny Mikakos says.

"We are sending them to Victoria's maximum security prison and sending a message to them that the behaviour they have engaged in is disgraceful," she told reporters on Thursday.

The youths will be held in single cells and subject to stricter conditions while in Barwon.

Critics say the move will put the teenagers at risk of abuse but the government insists there will be "no interaction with adult prisoners".

The move has the support of Community and Public Sector Union secretary Karen Batt.

"The attacks, the assaults, the damage that has been caused has had significant traumatic effects on the staff that work in the system," Ms Batt said in a video posted to Facebook.

"It's a strong response, it's a smart response, it will break the cycle of violence in youth justice."

Victoria's parole board on Wednesday blocked a government bid to have seven riot ringleaders serve the rest of their sentences in adult prison.

But the seven could be among the 40 youths to be relocated to Barwon.

Forty adult prisoners will be moved to other parts of Barwon or other prisons to make room for the youths.

Victorian Corrections Commissioner Jan Shuard says the system has the capacity to cope.

However, the state opposition claims the adult prison system is down by 200 maximum security beds due to last year's riot at the Metropolitan Remand Centre.

Families and children spokeswoman Georgie Crozier told reporters Ms Mikakos should resign.

"We've got a system in crisis and someone's got to take responsibility for that and that has to be the minister, the buck stops with her," Ms Crozier said.

Greg Barns from the Australian Lawyers Alliance has criticised the move as "populist" and said reoffending rates would increase when the youths are released.

"It will lead to an increase in the risk of assaults on young offenders - particularly sexual assaults," Mr Barns told 3AW.

The move is also in breach of Australia's international obligations under the Convention on the Rights of the Child and experience in the US shows full segregation was impossible, Mr Barns said.

Jesuit Social Services chief executive Julie Edwards said while the temporary solution was necessary, it should be ended as soon as possible.

"Putting these young people in an adult prison environment could backfire unless it is strictly interim and independently monitored," she said.

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