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Laws that violate young people's rights

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Laws that violate young people's rights

Amplify Blog

QFCC Engagement Support Officer Jodie reflects on child rights


This post is about some awful things that have been happening to young people in Queensland. If this post makes you upset, anxious, or triggered, here are some places you can get help:

Kids Help Line: You can call them on 1800 55 1800, or go to their website at https://kidshelpline.com.au/

Headspace: You can go to their website at https://headspace.org.au/

Recently, the Queensland Government has passed laws that don’t uphold the rights of young people. In the text of two of those laws, they state that they are ‘incompatible with human rights.’ But before we talk about that, let’s talk about what rights young people have in Queensland.

The United Nations has passed the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). It lays out over 40 rights of children. Some of these rights are the right to an education, the right to not be discriminated against, and the right to have contact with your parents.

You can read all these rights on the United Nations’ website at

Australia has ratified the UNCRC, which means that we have publicly said that we agree to uphold it. But Australia hasn’t made it a law, and we sometimes don’t follow the Convention. In 2019, the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child said that Australia needs to pass ‘national child rights legislation fully incorporating the Convention’.

Australia does not have any law giving everybody in the country human rights. Instead, different states and territories make laws about human rights. The Queensland Government has passed a law for human rights called Human Rights Act 2019. That law has some special rights for children, including being separated from adults if a child goes to jail, and to have a name and be registered when they are born. So even though Australia has not made the UNCRC a law, the rights of young people in Queensland should still be upheld through human rights legislation.

This year and in 2021, the Queensland Government passed some new laws that don’t uphold the rights of young people who come into contact with the law. Those laws were the Youth Justice and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2021, the Strengthening Community Safety Act 2023, and the Child Protection (Offender Reporting and Offender Prohibition Order) and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2022. The first law makes it so young people aren’t given bail unless there’s a strong reason. According to Queensland’s Human Rights Commission, this law is ‘a serious incursion into the rights of children and families.’ The second law makes it a crime for a young person to break the rules in place for them to be on bail, for example, if they leave home after a certain time of night. The third law allows children to be kept in watch houses after their court appearance while waiting to be transferred to a detention centre. When the government made the last two laws, they had to write in them that they are ‘incompatible with human rights.’

In their Queensland Child Rights Report released this year, the QFCC said that the laws do not keep young people out of court and jail. They also said that these laws are especially harmful to First Nations young people.

Remember, QFCC is here to help young people have as much say as possible on decisions that affect them, and to stand up for the rights of young people. If you want to stay connected and learn more, sign up to the QFCC eNewsletter by clicking here.