Yesterday the Queensland Government introduced its Strengthening Community Safety Bill designed, in its words, “to target serious repeat offenders”.

Measures include:

  • Introduction of breach of bail for young offenders for the first time this century
  • More than $100 million extra invested in diversion and rehabilitation
  • Targeted investment in community safety.

We have listened to the community. This action is all about putting community safety first,” the Premier, Anastasia Palaszczuk, said.

“We will use the full force of the law to target the small cohort of serious repeat offenders that currently pose a threat to community safety.

“When these kids reoffend time and again, we need the police to catch them. And we need the courts to do their job.

“They have the resources. They have the laws. They have the tools.

“Importantly, they have this government’s full support to keep our community safe.”

The Guardian Australia reported today that “The Queensland government will override its own Human Rights Act to implement laws allowing children to be charged with criminal offences for breaching bail conditions, conceding its new laws are “incompatible” with human rights.”

The Government said that while they target serious high-risk offenders, they will continue to fight the complex causes of youth crime.

To help break this destructive cycle, we will take action and invest over $100 million in additional funds into programs proven to make a difference.”

However, West End-based justice advocacy organisation Sisters Insides said the legislative changes amount to a “devastating bail breach backflip” by the Palaszczuk Government. It is urging the Government to redirect its $42 million policing hotspot funding to existing successful community youth justice programs.

Sisters Inside CEO Debbie Kilroy OAM said her organisation has solutions that have worked for decades.

“Carceral strategies like criminalising breach of bail is netwidening the number of children being pipelined into the prison system.”

“This is a gross failure and the magnitude of its impacts will be felt for decades – this will only destroy lives,” Ms Kilroy said.

Ms Kilroy said the ‘backflip’ by the Labor Government to criminalise breach of bail “would prove to be one of the most misguided and ill-informed agendas”.

“Decarceration programs are the solution. We do not need more cages,” Ms Kilroy said.

“This agenda is based on vigilantism, not cold hard facts about what works and what does not work – carceration programs for children do not work.”

Queensland Greens spokesperson for Youth Justice Michael Berkman also raised concerns about the proposed changes:

Labor hasn’t just backflipped on breach of bail; they’ve come up with an even worse solution than Campbell Newman.

“They don’t care about community safety, all they care about is a headline. Queenslanders now know Labor will abandon their supposed principles for political clout, even where they concede they’re breaching Queensland’s Human Rights Act.

A ‘serious repeat offender’ declaration is this Government admitting that it’s failed to rehabilitate a child and has no other solutions but cycling them back through an ineffective system.”

Mr Berkman said Queensland is locking up more kids than any other state, “and it isn’t working“.

“Instead of reheating old LNP policies, Labor should fix the basics in this state like the housing crisis, underfunded state schools and a strained healthcare system.

“The funding for evidence-based programs that actually improve safety is dwarfed by spending on new youth prisons and is completely undermined by taking our laws backwards in an attempt to outdo the LNP.”

Ms Kilroy said it was not too late for the government to fund transformative justice programs.

We urge the government to start by redirecting the $42 million policing hotspot funding to the community solutions that have worked for decades,” Ms Kilroy said.

“We urge the Government to urgently sit down with representatives of organisations in community who have the solutions and create a safety net for vulnerable children to protect them from becoming part of this prison system,” Ms Kilroy said.

We need to defund prisons and escalate funding for the strategies that work. You can’t keep doing the same thing and expect a different result.”

“This Labor Government has devastatingly fallen into the trap of doing just that.”


Queensland Law Society said it is disappointed with the government’s decision to introduce the Strengthening Community Safety Bill with the reporting deadline of 10 March 2023 and a submission deadline of 24 February 2023.

Queensland Law Society President, Chloé Kopilović, said a proper consultation period is required when it comes to youth justice.

“Extending breach of bail as an offence to children and young people would restrict the ability of judicial decision-makers and therefore will likely lead to a substantial increase in the financial cost of remand and recidivist offending, as well as the social and financial costs of victimisation.”

“We are also disappointed with the emboldened decision to override this Government’s Human Rights Act and their statement stating the Bill’s provisions are “incompatible” with human rights,” Ms Kopilović said.

We are looking forward to participating in the parliamentary committee process and hope the government takes the time to seriously consider submissions received from experts in youth justice.” 

To view the Strengthening Community Safety Bill, go to the Office of the Queensland Parliamentary Counsel website:

Cover image by BrianAJackson – iStock.


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