Queensland will establish a stand-alone Department of Youth Justice, announced the state government on Friday.
The creation of the new department follows revelations earlier in the week that police cells are being used to hold children, including some as young as 10, because there is nowhere else to put them.
It will be headed up by Bob Gee, who is currently deputy commissioner, regional operations in the Queensland Police Service.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said she wanted to centralise responsibility for youth justice.
“These issues cross a number of government responsibilities: police, courts, child safety and education,” she explained.
“I want one person with one job: to co-ordinate and see these programs delivered.”
Gee has led efforts to reform cross-sector service delivery for many years, with a strong focus on prevention and engagement, said the premier.
At present he is also the state disaster coordinator, a board member of the Queensland Reconstruction Authority and the QPS Indigenous Champion.
”Bob Gee is the perfect person to get the job done,” said Palaszczuk.
“When it comes to marshalling resources and sending them where they’re needed, Bob Gee has proven himself one of the best in the world.”
The premier said the new department would use existing staff and there are no changes to ministerial responsibilities.
Palaszczuk acknowledged the public servants who have worked over many years to achieve better outcome for youth offenders, and who will continue this work under the new department.
Gee will start work on Monday.
“As a life-long police officer, I know exactly what we are dealing with,” he said.
“I applaud the premier’s leadership tackling this issue head-on.”
The state government is spending $550 million on youth justice, including the construction and expansion of youth detention centres and 18 programs to rehabilitate youth offenders and strengthen prevention.