16 June 2021

Greens candidate Celeste Liddle: “Children in criminal institutions is not proof that some kids are just ‘bad kids’ and need to be locked up. Instead, it is proof of multiple systemic failures and an inability of politicians to think beyond models of punishment. Imagine if instead of criminalising kids, we increased funding to social work organisations, youth centres and other organisations which provide outreach programs for those struggling? What if we ensured that instead of being out on the street, kids had a safe home and space they could go to, particularly when in a violent situation? What if we funded our public education sector with the money going into prisons and policing, so our schools had the capacity to expand support services, inclusive educational opportunities and specialist mentors/advisors? What if, quite simply, we engaged in some real work narrowing the gap between rich and poor in this country? Australia also needs to examine its overreliance on punishment via a proper truth-telling and treaty process. Perhaps through that, and the extension of proper respect to Indigenous communities, we will begin to see fewer Aboriginal kids locked up and a significantly less racist, more humane and more egalitarian society. While it’s not the complete answer, I believe that raising the age of criminality is an important stepping stone in undoing the damage the juvenile detention system has done to so many of our children.”