Legislative Council: Tuesday, September 06, 2022


Youth Detention

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS (15:18): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before addressing a question without notice to the Attorney-General on the topic of the cost of keeping children in detention.

Leave granted.

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: In the New South Wales budget estimates last month it was revealed that the cost of holding youths in detention has risen to $1,956 per child per day. That is a total of $713,940 per child per year. In South Australia, it has been reported in the media that 43 children aged between 10 and 13 have been incarcerated in 2020-21. My question to the Attorney-General is: how much is it currently costing the South Australian government to hold children under the age of 14 in youth detention?

The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Attorney-General, Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector) (15:19): I thank the honourable member for his question. I have some statistics here, but if there need to be more I can refer that to the minister for youth detention. I am advised, though, that there were some 50 individual children aged 10 to 13 out of a total of 300 individuals for the 2021-22 year in youth detention at various times during that year. That is the total number over the course of the year.

My rough estimate is that there are approximately 30 to 40 total residents on any given day, and approximately, on average, around 15 to 20 per cent are aged between 10 and 13. I am advised that the average cost of housing a youth in detention is about $3,827 a day.