9 Jan – Seven young people have been transferred out of Melbourne’s troubled Parkville youth justice centre, some to Barwon Prison, after rioting for six hours overnight.
Paramedics and police, including dog handlers, were called to the centre on Park Street on Parkville shortly after 8:00pm.
Families and Children Minister Jenny Mikakos said a group of six inmates broke away during a sporting activity before accessing a roof cavity and freeing another detainee.
“[The group] broke away from staff. They then managed to gain access to one of the units, and gain entry into the roof cavity of that unit,” she said.
“Whilst they were in the roof cavity, they managed to free one of their co-detainees out of his locked cell.”
Ms Mikakos said the incident was resolved by about 1:30am and no-one was injured.
Ian Lanyon, director of secure services at the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), said 13 beds were damaged, taking the facility’s number of usable beds to about 50.
“We hope to have [those beds] repaired in the next few days and that unit fully back online,” he said.
The youths had been playing basketball before they absconded, Mr Lanyon added.
Before November’s riots, Parkville had a 123-bed capacity.
Some of the seven youths transferred were taken to the Grevillia Unit at Barwon Prison — a maximum security adult jail.
The others were sent to another youth justice centre at Malmsbury, about 100 kilometres north-west of Melbourne.
A DHHS spokesperson said damage was being assessed and police were investigating.
“There were no injuries to young people, staff or police and at no point was there a threat to the security of the perimeter of the facility,” a statement read.
“Damage to the facility will be assessed with repair work to start as soon as this is completed.”
The State Government has been holding young people at the Grevillia Unit since November, after about 40 inmates rioted at the Parkville facility for 17 hours, ripping apart walls, windows and ceiling and destroying equipment.
The riot caused hundreds of thousands of dollars of damage and left much of the centre unusable.
The Supreme Court last month ruled that it was illegal to house juvenile detainees at the Grevillia Unit on human rights grounds.
However, the Government said it addressed the court’s concerns and again gazetted the prison unit as a youth justice centre on December 29, allowing it to keep youths there indefinitely.
Opposition Families and Children spokeswoman Georgie Crozier said it was clear young people being held at Parkville were not concerned about being transferred to Barwon.
“The young offenders were moved to Barwon because they trashed Parkville so extensively that they were incapable of living there,” she said.
“And still, even after that, even after young offenders have been transferred to Barwon, riots continue.