1st Edition

A Children’s Rights Assessment of Juvenile Detention in Australia

By Anita Mackay Copyright 2025
    176 Pages
    by Routledge

    Canvassing the socio-legal context for youth detention in Australia with a focus on international human rights law and legal frameworks within Australian states and territories, this book examines the recurring children’s rights-violations of recent years, and puts forward strategies for reform.

    Providing a comprehensive national picture of juvenile detention legislation, policy and practices using a children’s rights framework, this book is a detailed synthesis of investigatory reports, judicial decisions and inquiries by Royal Commissions, as well as parliamentary committee inquiries that establish an evidence base for assessing the compliance of youth detention with Australia’s international and domestic human rights obligations. It also proposes nine pillars for reform to help Australia move towards children’s rights compliance.

    A Children’s Rights Assessment of Juvenile Detention in Australia provides an invaluable resource for policy-makers, lawyers and criminologists, as well as for students of law and criminology.


    PART 1: Socio-Legal context for youth detention in Australia

    1. Detention of children in Australia: hyperincarceration and over-representation

    2. Australia’s international human rights law obligations

    3. Legal and policy framework for youth detention in Australia

    4. Monitoring and oversight of youth detention in Australia

    PART 2: Children’s rights violations in youth detention in Australia

    5. Low minimum age of criminal responsibility

    6. Failure to separate children from adults

    7. Degrading treatment / failure to treat children humanely

    8. Insufficient health services, standard of living and connections with family, community and culture

    PART 3: Strategies for reform

    9. Towards children’s-rights compliance in youth detention


    Anita Mackay has been researching the compliance of Australian closed environments with Australia’s international human rights law obligations since 2011. She has been an academic at La Trobe Law School (La Trobe University, Melbourne) since 2016 and is currently a senior lecturer. Dr Mackay’s 2020 book titled Towards Human Rights Compliance in Australian Prisons won the Australian and New Zealand Society of Criminology (ANZSOC) biennial Christine M. Alder award in 2021. Prior to 2011, Dr Mackay worked as a senior legal officer in a variety of government policy areas, including family law and access to justice.