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Government Must Act Urgently on Youth Strip Searches

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Tuesday, 30 June 2020

Tags: Justice, Youth Justice, Corrections, Police

Rosalie Woodruff MP | Greens Justice spokesperson

Information obtained by the Examiner newspaper shows invasive strip searches of children and young people are continuing at high levels in the Tasmanian youth detention system. This is extremely disturbing, and the government must immediately act to prevent it continuing.

Last year, police subjected 173 children to being strip searched, including 71 times after guidelines had been introduced to allegedly prevent the practice.

This is a serious human rights issue for those young Tasmanians, many of whom would have been degraded and damaged by the experience.

It is concerning a quarter of these strip searches were of Tasmanian Aboriginal children – a massive overrepresentation given they are just 4.6% of the population.

Multiple Commissioners for Children and Young People and palawa elders have been very clear - the use of strip searching must not be routine and should be legislated as an absolute last resort.

A year ago, the Children's Commissioner called again for legislative action to fix this abusive and unnecessary practice. These new figures show the government’s assessment guidelines are ineffective in changing the culture of strip searching young people.

The Attorney General and Minister for Human Services should have acted urgently on this matter last year, but failed to do so. They must introduce strict legislation to protect young people, and make publicly available the data about the use and outcomes of searches.