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Females, juveniles to share Adelaide detention centre with older males

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Female and male inmates as young as 10 years old will be moved out of their standalone Adelaide Youth Training Centre unit and into a single facility currently housing only males up to 18 years old, under a Marshall Government trial to start within weeks.

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Currently, detained females aged from 10 to 20 years are held in the Jonal Drive campus of the training centre site at Cavan.

Males aged 10 to 14 years are also held in the the Jonal Drive facility, separated from males aged 14 to 18 now detained in the nearby Goldsborough Rd complex.

But under the trial to begin mid-August, the Jonal Drive site will be emptied and its previously segregated females and juvenile males moved into the older males’ 60-bed campus.

The government said this morning the Jonal Drive site was “under-utilised”, holding only five residents on average for the past 90 days.

Tthe newer Goldsborough site built in 2012 held 31 older, male inmates this morning.

Human Services Minister Michelle Lensink said that under the trial, male, female and younger inmates would be “separated at all times”, and current staffing across both sites would be maintained.

“During this six-month trial, safety for residents and staff remains our highest priority,” she said.

“Our commitment to high standards of safety and security for staff, and the safety and wellbeing of young people and the community is paramount and will continue.

“Staff and and industrial representatives were consulted and have provided input into the development of the trial and the new accommodation model.”

Lensink said the Goldsborough site had modern security systems and “supports best practice rehabilitation, learning, participation and social development”.

“Jonal Drive’s ageing infrastructure is less responsive to the modern approaches that are currently possible at Goldsborough Rd,” she said.

The Jonal Drive site will be mothballed during the trial but will be available if extra capacity is needed.

In a message sent to Cavan centre staff today, Youth Justice executive director Michael Homden said it was hoped the “new model of accommodation will lead to improvements in the coordination of our services to young people as well as a more consistent approach in how we deliver services”.

“I believe accommodating all young people at the Goldsborough Road campus will provide the potential to implement the most modern approaches to managing young people in detention,” he said.

“The proposed trial is an opportunity for both operational staff and management to understand how the new model can work effectively and how we can best support our young people to thrive and achieve their full potential.

 “Once the trial is complete, the Training Centre management team can work together with staff and the (union) to discuss the merits of the approach and decide on the best way forward. This is an exciting time in our sector as we continue to listen, adapt and work to improve our services.

“I understand that the proposed accommodation model may be a change for some staff members, and we all respond to change differently. Please check in with each other and seek support from your colleagues or manager if needed.”

Opposition spokeswoman Nat Cook said there had been a reduction in the use of youth training centre beds over the last decade “with the introduction of improved restorative practice in youth justice by the previous Labor Government”. 

“Any change in the mix of youth justice accommodation regarding gender and age must be done with the interest of children and young people at its heart,” she said.

“I look forward to watching the trial closely with interest.”

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