Port Phillip Prison is among the justice facilities under the microscope as the Victorian Ombudsman and its inspectorate look into the use of solitary confinement on young people.
Inspections at Port Phillip Prison, Malmsbury Youth Justice Precinct and secure welfare services facilities were carried out in recent weeks.
Port Phillip Prison at Truganina is the state’s largest maximum-security prison with a dedicated youth unit. Malmsbury Youth Justice Precinct is a centre for males aged between 15 and 20. Secure welfare services involve facilities for children and young people under child protection orders who are at substantial and immediate risk of harm.
Ombudsman Deborah Glass said the inspections were conducted in line with the United Nations’ optional protocol to the convention against torture (OPCAT).
“Preventive inspections carried out under the OPCAT model seek to identify risks that may lead to ill treatment of detained people,” Ms Glass said. “A thematic inspection across multiple facilities presents a unique opportunity to examine practices across different closed environments, allowing the investigation to identify both examples of good practice and areas for improvement.
“The inspection team will gather first-hand observations; speak confidentially with children, young people and staff; have access to inspect all areas of a facility; and review relevant records and documentation.”
Ms Glass established a multi-disciplinary, multi-agency inspection team to assist her investigation.
The advisory group’s members will provide staff and guide the inspection team using their expertise in dealing with childhood trauma and mental health. The advisory group includes legal, human rights, mental health, youth, education and cultural representatives.
Ms Glass is expected to table a report on the investigation in the Victorian Parliament before the end of the year.