Wednesday, 15th April, 2009
Overcrowding leading to an increase in violence at juvenile detention centres is not a problem in Broken Hill, according to the NSW Minister for Juvenile Justice, Graham West. Mr West visited the local Juvenile Justice Centre yesterday and said it was the only facility he hadn't inspected since being appointed to his new position in September last year.
"I think it's always better to have a first hand look to get a better understanding of the centre," he said. While juvenile detention centres elsewhere in the State are copping criticism for overcrowding, Mr West said Broken Hill's centre was a different model. He said the Chloride Street facility was for short-term stays and housed a maximum of eight juveniles. Seven were in custody there when he toured yesterday. "It's a different type of centre.
"The typical stay might be a week.... others are long stay facilities." Mr West said other centres were attached to education facilities and housed more young people, but the local centre was used by young people attending court and to alleviate overcrowding elsewhere. "This is a facility recognising Broken Hill as a regional centre that is isolated from other major regions," he said. "It allows the families from the surrounding regions to be able to visit (those in detention)." Local Juvenile Justice staff also supervise 42 young people around the region who need to report as a condition of their release, or who are serving community service orders.
"The staff here are doing a great job," Mr West said. Nationals' MP for Murray-Darling, John Williams, agreed with the Labor MP's comments. "Generally, I've had no complaints about the juvenile facilities in Murray-Darling. "I think the local facility's of a pretty high standard." Mr West, who is also the Minister for Youth and Volunteering, will visit the Police and Citizens' Youth Club (PCYC) in Gypsum Street today.
He said he planned to talk to management and staff about ways the two organisations can work closer together to keep young people out of trouble.