State Government-run Institutions

The Queensland Government established reformatory schools and detention centres to provide institutional care and confinement for young people deemed to be in the need of ‘correction’. The Department of Child Safety are responsible for the management of these government-run institutions.  

Cleveland Youth Detention Centre

In June 1980, the Queensland Government established and opened Cleveland Youth Detention Centre, situated on Old Common Road, Belgian Gardens, Townsville QLD.  

Cleveland Youth Detention Centre (previously known as the Cleveland Youth Centre) operated as a detention centre for male children between the ages of 10 and 17 who had been refused bail and remanded in custody, or who have been sentenced by the courts to a period of detention. The children were confined at Cleveland Youth Detention Centre typically by a court order.  

Cleveland Youth Detention Centre is managed by managerial staff who report to and are supervised by the Queensland government (through its agencies).   

Cleveland Youth Detention Centre is still running to this day.   

History of Abuse at Cleveland Youth Detention Centre

In August 1998, the Queensland government established a Commission of Inquiry to examine whether there had been any abuse, mistreatment or neglect of children in Queensland institutions. This Inquiry was otherwise known as the ‘Forde Inquiry’. The Forde Inquiry had findings of incidents of unsafe, improper and illegal treatment of children in Queensland institutions (including Cleveland Youth Detention Centre), including incidents of sexual, physical, emotional and systems abuse.  

After a Four Corners report on a separate facility in the Northern Territory aired in July 2016, more claims of brutality by officers and staff emerged from Cleveland Youth Detention Centre.  

In July 2016, an ABC article provided that a former worker at Cleveland Youth Detention Centre claimed that “physical and emotional abuse was rife” at the centre. The former worker described an incident in 2012 in which she alleges a 15-year-old boy was involved in a physical altercation with a group of male staff. The former worker went on to state: 

“In the detention centre the things that you see — and it’s not only the physical abuse — the way that these big brutes of men will boast about how many young people they’ve smashed.” 

“They strip them of everything … they strip them of all their self-esteem.” 

Further in 2016, internal government reports that show footage of mistreatment of children at Cleveland Youth Detention Centre were released. In an ABC interview, it was said that the reports showed a “…culture of abuse and secrecy going back many years”. In this same interview, a former detainee reported that an officer spat in his food and that he was a regular victim of “take-downs” during his time at Cleveland Youth Detention Centre.  

Survivors of abuse at Cleveland Youth Detention Centre reported that their experiences at the centre left them traumatised beyond relief. 

We are specialist abuse lawyers and can help you receive acknowledgement, meaningful apology and financial resolution from those institutions and systems of power that failed to protect you from harm. If you would like advice in relation to a childhood or adult sexual, physical and/or psychological/emotional abuse claim in any jurisdiction in Australia, please reach out to the author, Emily Wright, at Littles Lawyers today. 

Further Abuse Law information written by our Emily Wright can be found on our website.  

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