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Estimates: Asking about lockdowns and seclusion in youth detention centres

During Parliamentary Budget Estimates on Thursday 4 August 2022, I asked about lockdowns and seclusion in youth detention. 

You can read the answers below or in the official Queensland Parliament Record of Proceedings (Hansard).

Mr BERKMAN: I have a few questions in relation to lockdowns in youth detention centres which I expect are best directed to the Director-General. I see Mr Drane here, but I will direct them to the director-general in the first instance. Director-General, can you tell the committee on how many days in the last financial year were young people locked down in their units for more than 22 hours of the day?

Ms Mulkerin: Thank you for the question. In this last year, there were 35 incidents of centre-wide lockdown across the state—six in Brisbane Youth Detention Centre, nine in Cleveland and 20 in West Moreton.

Mr BERKMAN: To the second element of that question, are you able to indicate how long those lockdowns ran for or in how many of those instances it was for a period longer than 22 hours?

Ms Mulkerin: I will have to take some advice because I am not sure we will be able to have that information. Lockdowns occur for very specific reasons. It might be a disturbance in one particular unit and then it takes an hour to settle and then another hour to sort out the whole centre. Some of them can run for quite a number of hours so it is really dependent on the incident and the reason for causing the lockdown.

Mr BERKMAN: Thank you. I appreciate if you can take some—

CHAIR: Thank you, member for Maiwar.

Mr BERKMAN: Chair, I have a follow-up question.

CHAIR: I will come back to you.

Mr BERKMAN: It is very much on the same topic, if you could indulge me for a moment longer.


Mr BERKMAN: I will come back to the questions I was asking previously around lockdown. I have been made familiar with the term ‘night mode’, where children are locked down for extended periods without access to rehabilitative programs or education. Director-General, can you advise how many times night mode was used at the Cleveland Youth Detention Centre in the last financial year?

Ms Mulkerin: Those numbers I gave you before were the centre-wide lockdown numbers, and that is the same thing that is colloquially known as night mode.

Mr BERKMAN: Thank you. I suspected that might be the case.

Ms Mulkerin: In relation to your specific question in relation to Cleveland, there were nine centrewide lockdowns in 2021-22.

Mr BERKMAN: Director-General, can you advise the committee what is the longest time that a child has been held in a behaviour management room in the last 12 months?

Ms Mulkerin: I do not have it with me. I will see if we are able to get it before the session ends.

Mr BERKMAN: Minister, if we cannot get that information in the time available could it be taken on notice?

CHAIR: The director-general has indicated that she would try to get the information before the end of the session. Minister?

Ms LINARD: Yes, we are going to seek to do that, Chair. We will take some advice in the short break and we will come back to you.


Ms Mulkerin: Yes, I do have it. The question was: what is the longest time a child has been held in a behaviour management room in the last 12 months? To clarify, there are no behaviour management rooms. If a young person is separated due to behaviour issues, it occurs in response to individual risk. Placing a young person in a smaller accommodation unit can be one way to address that risk. Where any separation occurs in a specific separation room, this only occurs consistent with one to two hours and it is only on the centre’s executive director’s approval. Any separations over 12 hours, for example, are at the senior executive director’s approval only.

CHAIR: Thank you, Director-General.

Mr BERKMAN: I raise a point of order, Madam Chair. Just briefly before we finish—and I very much appreciate the answer—are you able to indicate in line with the question what the longest time is that a child has been kept in separation, even putting aside the incorrect terminology I used?

Ms Mulkerin: I might need to take more advice in the break.

Mr BERKMAN: Certainly.

Read the response to the question taken on notice, provided on 9 August 2022, here

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