Qld announces new Youth Justice department

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The Queensland government has announced a new Department of Youth Justice.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk made the announcement on Friday following a week of heavy criticism about children being held in maximum security cells build for adults for weeks at a time.

She said Deputy Commissioner of Police and State Disaster Coordinator Bob Gee has been appointed as director-general of the department.

The premier said she wanted one person to coordinate the roles of police, courts, child safety and education.

“When it comes to marshalling resources and sending them where they’re needed, Bob Gee has proven himself one of the best in the world,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

The new department would use existing staff and there would be no changes to ministerial responsibilities, she said.

Monday’s Four Corners program on the ABC detailed cases of children enduring lengthy periods in adult holding cells because the state’s youth detention centres are full.

Some were held in isolation, sometimes in suicide smocks.

One girl was held with two alleged male sex offenders at the Brisbane City Watch House, and two children were held for 33 days or more.

The opposition joined calls from child advocacy and legal groups for an immediate end to the practice following the reports.

The Royal Australasian College of Physicians called for the age of criminal responsibility to be raised to 14 to end abuse of children in custody.

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