Youth detention and COVID-19

ALERT: The Queensland Government has implemented new restrictions, which mean unvaccinated people are not able to visit youth detention centres from 17 December 2021.

Staff will work with families and other visitors to facilitate video links and phone contact.

Anyone over the age of 12 who enters a youth detention centre must wear a mask, unless they are detained in the centre.

We continue to work closely with Queensland Health to ensure the safety and wellbeing of young people, staff and the community. Extensive planning has taken place to respond to COVID-19.

We have put measures in place to keep everyone safe and visitors must follow the direction of staff on centre.

Caring for young people in the centre

Youth detention centres have experience dealing with easily transferable health risks and have well developed plans to deal with infectious diseases. The decisions we make about the health and wellbeing of young people and staff in youth detention centres during the COVID-19 pandemic are based on advice from Queensland Health.

We have strategies in place, including:

  • COVID-19 health checks for young people, performed by Queensland Health 
  • increased cleaning and sanitisation of all areas and equipment
  • all staff wearing personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • managing movement and interaction between sections of the centre
  • increased availability of hand sanitisers and anti-bacterial wipes
  • extra staff training on:
    • hygiene
    • caring for young people with COVID-19
    • using PPE
    • extra safety measures for any young person identified as high risk
    • encouraging social distancing.

All young people at a youth detention centre have access to health services on site, provided by Queensland Health.

If a young person gets sick, they will be taken care of at the centre, in line with Queensland Health advice, if it is safe to do so. Queensland Health will arrange for a young person to go to hospital if needed.

Young people who display symptoms of COVID-19 while in detention will be isolated from other young people in line with Queensland Health advice and tested for COVID-19.

We will notify you If your child is confirmed as having COVID-19.

Young people have programs and structured activities, and cultural units are providing essential support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people.

Mental health services and other supports are also operating. In addition, behaviour support teams are working with staff and young people to address the types of issues young people may be experiencing during this time.

All young people leave the youth detention centre with a detailed medical discharge summary from Queensland Health. This is part of our usual process. The medical discharge will say if the young person needs to isolate or quarantine in the community.

Staying connected

It is important for young people in youth detention centres to connect with their family, friends and community.

Young people’s caseworkers will stay in regular contact with parents and carers throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Please contact your child’s caseworker if you have any questions or concerns.

All visits to a youth detention centre must be arranged in advance. When arranging your visit, the things we will consider include:

  • the current COVID situation in the centre
  • how to best manage COVID-related risks
  • individual circumstances.

If face-to-face visits are not possible, staff will tell you why and facilitate video links and phone contact.

Entering a youth detention centre

The Queensland Government has implemented new restrictions, which mean unvaccinated visitors (over the age of 16) are no longer able to enter a young detention centre. A person is considered fully vaccinated when they have had two doses of an approved COVID-19 vaccine. Visitors under the age of 16 are not required to be vaccinated to enter.

Anyone over the age of 12 who enters a youth detention centre must wear a mask, unless they are detained in the centre.

All staff, visitors and other essential workers at our youth detention centres are required to undergo health screening, including temperature checks, before entering youth detention centres.

Extra safety measures are in place when young people are admitted to a youth detention centre. Young people are checked for COVID-19 symptoms before admission and/or entry to a centre.

You can learn more about COVID and youth detention centres in our factsheets for: