Byron Greens question treatment of juveniles

BYRON BAY — The arrest of three boys for allegedly photocopying and attempting to use a $100 note has raised many questions.

The boys, aged 13-16, have been living under the care of Kids off the Streets (KOTS), Mullumbimby. They were arrested in Byron and spent the following few days in Ballina jail.

For two days and nights, the boys slept on a single blanket on a concrete floor, with only a bucket for a toilet. KOTS coordinator Mo Hughes was initially not allowed access to the boys.

The 13-year-old was sent home. The remaining two were sent via private plane to a refuge in Melbourne, in the custody of Family and Community Services.

While in custody the boys were denied legal advice and counselling. They were abused verbally and told to get jobs.

Byron Greens spokesperson Andrew Garton said on August 7 there was “no justification for the conditions in which these boys were kept. It is becoming clearer that there may well be behind-the-scenes policies to suppress and eliminate `undesirables’ from Byron Shire. If so, where do these policies come from and how are they being instituted into the consciousness of our local police force?”

Garton suggested that the money spent flying the boys to Melbourne would have been better used to aid rehabilitation.

“Many young people find Byron Shire a safe haven”, he pointed out, “and why shouldn’t they? Sending these boys and others like them away, terrorising and bullying them will only perpetuate the problem. Are we as a community prepared to be responsible for the care and rehabilitation of such children?”

Byron Greens Media Release, published by GreenLeft Weekly, Issue 23, 1991.

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