Department of Child Safety, Youth and Women

Mental health and therapeutic support recommendations

The Review made 83 recommendations. These have been sorted into work programs for implementation.

Our objectives

To provide young people in detention with mental health and therapeutic services that support:

  • safety
  • wellbeing
  • rehabilitation.

The way forward

To achieve this we will:

  • strengthen and expand our health and therapeutic services
  • build staff capacity to identify and respond to emotional/psychological harm and mental health issues
  • communicate better with families about their child’s suicide risk, and emotional/psychological harm
  • establish governance arrangements to collaborate and coordinate health and therapeutic services at the local level.

Recommendations

Recommendation 21 (status: in progress)

The Review recommends that consultation with external stakeholders should be undertaken in the development of programs for young people with disabilities and/or learning difficulties. (9.R5)

We employ speech and language pathologists in youth detention centres in Queensland, as part of the multi-disciplinary team. They undertake a range of assessments and help develop intervention plans for young people. Our multi-disciplinary team can also assess young people for foetal alcohol spectrum disorders.

We consult with stakeholders who specialise in disabilities and learning difficulties. Their advice will be used in the development of programs for young people.

We are also working on partnerships with NDIS providers to connect young people to services that can respond to their individual needs.

Recommendation 44 (status: in progress)

The Review recommends that there should be commonality between the definition of harm under the Child Protection Act 1999 and the Youth Justice Act 1992 and it should include an unacceptable risk of harm. (15.R1)

We are actively exploring options to improve the identification and reporting of harm. From July 2018, a new harm assessment report will be trialled at each youth detention centre.

Recommendation 45 (status: in progress)

The Review recommends that there should be specialised, ongoing training to youth detention staff to assist them in identifying signs of emotional and psychological harm of a young person, as well as how institutionalised practices can cause or trigger significant harm to a young person.

The training should be provided by representatives from the Mental Health, Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drugs Services (MHATODS). (It is understood there is currently no ongoing training on this issue). (15.R2)

We are committed to ensuring that youth detention staff are able to identify and report suspected harm of young people in detention.

Youth detention services are underpinned by trauma informed practice.

We will work with Queensland Health to develop a specialised training program for youth detention staff. This will help staff to identify signs of emotional and psychological harm, and enhance their understanding of how institutionalised practices can cause or trigger harm.

Recommendation 46 (status: in progress)

The Review recommends that harm reporting obligations should be subject to annual refresher training for all youth detention centre staff. (15.R3)

We are committed to ensuring that youth detention staff are able to identify and report suspected harm of young people in youth detention. We currently provide extensive and comprehensive training to youth detention staff, including annual suicide and self-harm prevention training.

Recommendation 47 (status: in progress)

The Review recommends that all records of SR1 in ICMS should provide detailed information of the specific management of suicide risk and behaviour, detailing specific pro-active interventions, as a means of ensuring transparency and accountability between relevant government departments. (15.R4)

Regular and comprehensive information is exchanged between detention and community based caseworkers. Child safety caseworkers are including in this if relevant.

We will review our processes in collaboration with Queensland Health to identify any areas for improvement.

Recommendation 48 (status: in progress)

The Review recommends that the SR1 in ICMS should be relayed to CHQ Statewide MHS to ensure that appropriately skilled mental health practitioners are aware of the incident and risk alert and can assist where appropriate. (15.R5)

Queensland Health also provides essential care and support for young people in detention who present with suspected mental health issues.

Together we develop support plans for young people returning to their community.

Recommendation 49 (status: in progress)

The Review recommends that Queensland Health staff responsible for conducting mental health assessments on young people in response to a serious suicide attempt should be trained (if not qualified) in mental health assessment specific to young people (particularly those with complex needs). (15.R6)

Youth Justice and Queensland Health are working together to implement this recommendation.

Recommendation 50 (status: in progress)

The Review recommends that parents and guardians should be advised of all significant incidents occurring in the centre for which children may have suffered harm as defined in the Youth Justice Act 1992, section 268 as soon as there is a recognition that harm has been suffered. (15.R7)

Existing policies require parents/guardians to be notified in the event their child may have been harmed while in youth detention. The review of this process will include consideration of any barriers that delay the notification process and exemptions to the process, where disclosure would not be in the young person's best interests.

Recommendation 76 (status: completed)

The Review recommends that further investigation should be undertaken as to the concerning allegation of the misuse of Individual THHS-12’s electronic signature and accuracy of meeting minutes. (19.R1)

Youth Justice does not have electronic signatures. DCOIS provides notifications to staff members to alert them to items for their information or action. We are reviewing records relevant to the recommendation to identify where we can achieve greater clarity.

Recommendation 80 (status: in progress)

The Review recommends that youth detention centre employees should receive more training in identification, treatment and management of young people with mental health issues. (19.R5)

Youth Justice will work with the Queensland Centre for Mental Health Learning to deliver specialised mental health training. Youth detention staff will also be upskilled in the identification, treatment and management of young people with mental health issues.

Our on-centre client services teams will also support and build the capacity of operational staff.

Recommendation 81 (status: in progress)

The Review recommends that Youth Justice policies and risk assessment tools should:

  • distinguish between suicide risk and self-harm risk
  • reflect the research undertaken by Youth Justice that physical restraints escalate self-harming behaviour. (19.R6)

We are reviewing relevant policies and risk assessment tools. This work will reflect contemporary research regarding the impact of physical restraints on young people at risk of suicide or self-harm.

Recommendation 82 (status: in progress)

The Review recommends that consideration should be given to creating a 0.5 FTE consultant psychiatrist and a 1.0 FTE psychiatry registrar to be based at each youth detention centre. (19.R7)

Youth Justice will work with Queensland Health to increase psychiatric support in youth detention centres. A new memorandum of understanding and supporting procedures are being developed.

Recommendation 83 (status: in progress)

The Review recommends that a consultant psychiatrist should be available on call after hours and on weekends. (19.R8)

Youth Justice is working with Queensland Health on this recommendation.

Is your feedback

Please submit your comments on the department's Compliments and Complaints section.

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