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.  

Sir Leslie Wilson Youth Detention Centre

In 1961, the Queensland Government established and opened Sir Leslie Wilson Youth Detention Centre, situated on Tenth Avenue, Windsor QLD.  

Sir Leslie Wilson Youth Detention Centre (previously known as Wilson Youth Hospital and Sir Leslie Wilson Youth Centre) operated as a detention centre for children under the age of 18 who were deemed as troublemakers, emotionally disturbed, and children who had broken the law. The children were confined at Sir Leslie Wilson Youth Detention Centre typically by a court order.  

In 1987, the girls at Sir Leslie Wilson Youth Detention Centre were transferred to John Oxley Youth Detention Centre upon its opening. Sir Leslie Wilson Youth Detention Centre then served as a short-term remand and transit facility for boys until 1994, when the girls were returned as John Oxley Youth Detention Centre was needed for housing the former detainees of Westbrook Youth Detention Centre upon its closing.  

Sir Leslie Wilson Youth Detention Centre was managed by a Superintendent who supervised and reported to the Queensland government (through its agencies).   

Sir Leslie Wilson Youth Detention Centre closed on 7 February 2001 as a result of the recommendation of the Forde Inquiry (see below).  

History of Abuse at Sir Leslie Wilson Youth Detention Centre

In 1999, the Commission of Inquiry into Abuse of Children in Queensland Institutions (also known as the Forde Inquiry) provided in its’ final report that the children’s needs and educational entitlements at Sir Leslie Wilson Youth Detention Centre were being neglected, that the children were stigmatised as criminal and psychiatric cases, and that the children were exposed to a significant risk of sexual and physical abuse by staff. The corporal punishment and physical abuse inflicted upon the children was found to be completely hypocritical with the concept of the institution as a medical facility; as one witness put it, “It was called a hospital, but I don’t know why; maybe you needed the hospital when they were finished.” Ultimately, the Forde Inquiry recommended that the Sir Leslie Wilson Youth Detention Centre close as a matter of urgency.  

In 2003, a former chaplain at Sir Leslie Wilson Youth Detention Centre provided a submission to the Inquiry into Children in Institutional Care, in which he wrote: 

On my first visits to Wilson, I could not believe what I saw taking place…Many young people – in fact, most of the girls on their first admission – were placed in Wilson for non-criminal offences…Wilson was a place of institutionalised violence. Most children had not committed serious crimes, contrary to what the Minister for Children’s Services, Mr John Herbert, often used to say: “Wilson is full of murderers, rapists and arsonists.” … All young people who had the misfortune of entering Wilson were treated psychiatrically which often meant in practice that they were treated with drugs. The result of this in many cases was that these young people were released from Wilson with a drug habit…Staff were also using drugs to control the young people. Young people were often injected with sedatives. If some staff wanted to have a quiet shift, they were not above giving sedatives to their young charges. Some young people who did not have a drug problem when they entered Wilson certainly had a raging habit by the time they were discharged.

In 2017, a former officer at Sir Leslie Wilson Youth Detention Centre was charged in relation to 41 offences of indecent treatment of boys, carnal knowledge, and deprivation of liberty between 1981 and 1995.  

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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