Queensland Attorney-General Yvette D'Ath.
Queensland Attorney-General Yvette D'Ath. Kevin Farmer

17-year-olds out of adult jails within one year

HUMAN rights groups have praised Queensland's plan to move of 17-year-olds out of adult prisons within one year.

The Queensland Parliament on Thursday night passed the Labor Government's bill to increase the legal age of a child from 16 to 17. Within a year 17-year-old prisoners will be jailed in adult jails.

The vote split the Katter's Australian Party with Rob Katter supporting the government and Shane Knuth opposing the bill with the LNP.

Former Labor MPs turned independents Rob Pyne and Billy Gordon voted to support the bill.

Queensland was the only state to treat 17-year-olds as adults.

Amnesty International indigenous rights campaigner Roxanne Moore called the move a "historic day for Queensland".

"The Bill passed today recognises that 17 year-olds are children, and all children, no matter what offence they may have committed, should be given every possible opportunity for rehabilitation. They are far more likely to have this in the youth justice system," Ms Moore said.

"For Indigenous children, who are 22 times more likely to be detained than non-Indigenous children in Queensland, this best chance at rehabilitation is through Indigenous-led programs, in their communities."

Ms Moore said the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child had been calling for Queensland to change the law since 2005.

The LNP voted against the bill claiming it would put young detainees in youth centres at risk from 17-year-olds.

Toowoomba South LNP MP David Janetski said the cost of the move had not been explained.

"There are two primary objections to the passage of the bill: firstly, the government cannot guarantee the safety of young detainees as young as 10 if 17-year-olds are moved into the system; secondly, the cost of the transition is not able to be determined as a transition plan has not yet been proposed," he said.

But Attorney-General Yvette D'Ath said the move had wide-spread support from the community.

"The opposition fails to acknowledge the overwhelming support in Queensland and around the world for transitioning 17-year-olds to the youth justice system and finds itself isolated in its disgraceful stance against this important change," she said.


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