Brisbane Youth Detention Worker Tests Positive to COVID-19

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Brisbane Youth Detention Centre sign in Wacol in western suburbsA worker at the Brisbane Youth Detention Centre has tested positive to coronavirus

A 76-year-old woman working at the centre in Wacol in the city’s west tested positive to the virus while still working. The woman worked five shifts while in the infectious period. 

“What you’re going to hear today is the story of a woman who was sick, and still went to work,” QLD Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said in a press conference.

Our most vulnerable children exposed

The exposure of this virus to 127 members of our most vulnerable population is unacceptable. The youngest detainee at Wacol is 13 years old, according to the Queensland Government. Over 500 staff work at the centre potentially creating a wildfire of future cases.

Sisters Inside CEO Debbie Kilroy is calling for urgent action.

“We’re calling for the release of all of the children. They’re all locked up inside their cells in isolation. Eighty per cent of those children are on remand.”

Questions are being raised in relation to social distancing within the facility. The Government states that they are well-practised in social distancing, however they stated this practice was simply locking the children in their individual rooms.

Isolation will have a large impact on the mental health of the children.  

Court hearings for those inside the centre have had to be postponed. Debbie stated that one of the girls they represent will have to remain inside as her hearing was set for Monday.

“We’ve also had to shut down Sisters Inside and my law practice as a precaution,” she stated.

Sixty-fix per cent (65%) of children in youth detention in 2019 were Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander.

The Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP) has previously highlighted that “most children in the youth justice system have significant additional neurodevelopmental delays. These children also have high rates of significant pre-existing trauma.”

The children within these facilities are amongst our Countries most vulnerable. The exposure of these already vulnerable children to this pandemic is an incredibly failure on the part of the QLD Government. 

The Government will be testing all staff, any residents and visitors.  The centre only starting face to face visits on Monday, however everyone at the centre including staff must have had health checks and temperature checks. 

The children should be released from custody as soon as they have tested negative to allow for better social-distancing within the facility. 

If you believe that you, or someone you know, are at risk of exposure to COVID-19 while in some sort of detention, please contact us now.

Sarah Gore

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