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Leading human rights campaigner, Debbie Kilroy, has accused Queensland police of covering up a widespread culture of “white supremacy” following recordings leaked from the Brisbane watchhouse this week.

The comments made by officers and watchhouse staff were further evidence of systemic racism in the state’s justice system.

 “It’s time we stopped glossing over the truth about the policing system in this State,” Ms Kilroy said. 

 “Times have not changed, they only pretend to have. We still have ongoing, disproportionate, mass incarceration of Indigenous people and this will not change unless we overhaul the system.”

 She said community only had to look at who was informing the State’s justice policies to see why the system was broken. 

 “When you’ve got the State’s former police chief Bob Atkinson going against recommendations from every corner of the globe and blocking the raising of the minimum age of criminal responsibility in his recommendations to the State, as well as watch house officers joking about beating and burying black people, you know the apple is rotten to the core.”

Ms Kilroy’s comments follow revelations of brutality and mistreatment of young people in Western Australia’s watchhouse on ABC’s Four Corners program last night.

“This system is fundamentally broken and every link in the chain continues to perpetuate violence against Indigenous people,” she said.

Meanwhile the State Government in Queensland remains commited to building yet another youth prison when all the evidence, including the “hidden” report unearthed by Four Corners last night, was further proof of how far from best practice the Government had fallen. 

“The secret little report, which is in the hands of all state governments, clearly states that locking up children will cause harm to the community. But they’ve kept it secret and questions need to be asked about why,” Ms Kilroy said.

 “If governments are actively working to harm children and choosing to ignore all evidence about best practice, we need to know why.”

She said children must be our priority, and the reasons for their actions must be understood. They must be ‘supported and loved’. Governments in Australia had been provided with pathways for change for years but were refusing to implement strategies that were working elsewhere in the world. 

“If the system is broken and you continue to uphold it, there must be a hidden reason. It’s time we knew why governments want to continue harming children rather than changing outcomes and creating better futures for them and the community as a whole.’

Four Corners obtained the report of the Council of Attorneys-General review which examines the age of criminal responsibility as part of its ongoing investigation into youth detention abuses. 

The recommendations of this report are clear – no child below the age of 14 should be prosecuted for a criminal offence,” Ms Kilroy said. 

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.