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Human rights campaigner and prison abolitionist Debbie Kilroy has slammed the Palaszczuk Government’s youth justice overhaul, warning the violent impact of the new laws will be felt for generations.

Ms Kilroy, who also heads up Sisters Inside, said the raft of changes would “just keep layering one act of violence against children on top of the other and the outcome will be communities that are less safe.”

She said the big question community needed to ask itself about youth justice and ‘youth crime’  was “why are children behaving this way, what harm has been done to them that they push back and harm others?”

“Every girl we’ve supported is a survivor victim of the most horrific violence, not only interpersonally, but at the hands of the State,” Ms Kilroy said.

“The majority of boys on remand are pipelined into the prison system with a history of trauma and violence and then many are violated in prison”.

Ms Kilroy said the conversation must be about harm. 

“We know community has been harmed, we are hurting and children are hurting,” she said.

“These kids are being attacked by the system and these laws are not the solution, they are only going to cause more harm. These policies will create violent men like we’ve never seen before.”

Ms Kilroy said “if you put a child behind bars, if you put them in solitary, if the system is built around a child who is labeled bad when they are not, then the child is going to push back.

This government is all about harming children. 

Ms Kilroy said there was an undeniable prevalence of childhood experiences of violence in incarcerated adults.

“Rather than interrupt the pipeline of childhood trauma leading to prison, these policies will reinforce the cycle of violence and harm, keeping prisons full of traumatised children and adults,” Ms Kilroy said. “This is the government’s employment strategy and continues to harm our communities.”

“Every child must be valued for the child they are, for the child that wants to be understood, that wants to be loved, that wants a home and people who care for them.”

“I often say imagine a world where every child born from today does not experience one incident of harm, the world would be an entirely different place.”

Ms Kilroy said organisations, with strong track records of success, exist in community and we know how to support traumatised children and create safer communities but “Government must redirect carceral funds into these transformative care models”. We can reimagine communities without harm but we need a government that is courageous. 

“We can act to reduce the harm. We know how to do that. This Palaszczuk government is choosing not to.”


Learn more about Sisters Inside here: sistersinside.com.au

Debbie Kilroy: 0419 762 474

How can you help?

The Sisters Inside Fund for Children supports children of women in the criminal justice system to choose their own future free of the burdens so commonly felt while their mother is in prison.

#Free Her Campaign

This campaign has been set up by Debbie Kilroy, CEO of Sisters Inside Inc.  The funds raised will be used to release people from prison and pay warrants so they are not imprisoned.