A legal challenge against the Victorian Government’s decision to detain children in the Barwon maximum security adult prison will be heard by the Supreme Court starting today.

In December last year the Supreme Court ruled the state government had acted unlawfully in transferring children to the jail.

The state government then reclassified the Grevillea unit of Barwon prison as a youth justice facility.

In February the Human Rights Law Centre raised concerns that children at the prison were being held in their cells for 23 hours a day and had been assaulted by adult prison guards.

Speaking to the ABC, the Human Rights Law Centre’s Executive Director Hugh de Kretser said the state government is taking the youth justice system in the wrong direction.

“Numerous children told us that they were pinned to the floor by adult prison guards and kicked and punched,” said Mr de Kretser.


On Friday the Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory released its interim report into systemic abuses and mistreatment of children in youth prisons.

Mr de Kretser said it was vital that the Victorian Government heed the lessons from the horrors of the Don Dale prison where children were abused in the former adult prison.

“Whether it’s in the Northern Territory or in Victoria, kids shouldn’t be in adult prisons. Victoria has done some great work in achieving one of the lowest youth crime rates in the country, but is currently headed in completely the wrong direction. As a society, we shouldn’t be giving up on our kids,” said Mr de Kretser.

The case is scheduled to run for five days.