Laws proposed to improve Children’s Court media access

Fraser Barton |

The Queensland government has proposed laws to give journalists greater access to children’s courts.
The Queensland government has proposed laws to give journalists greater access to children’s courts.

Media will be given greater access to court cases involving youths under laws proposed by the Queensland government. 

Victims’ families will also be able to attend Children’s Court under changes proposed after a 70-year-old grandmother’s fatal stabbing outside a shopping centre.

A 16-year-old boy has been charged with murder after he was accused of stabbing Vyleen White in the chest in a suspected carjacking at Redbank Plains earlier in February.

Premier Steven Miles previously said he would speak with the state attorney-general about greater access for journalists after the 16-year-old appeared in a closed court hearing.

Acting Magistrate Robert Turra refused a February 6 application for media to be present at the boy’s first hearing at Ipswich Children’s Court, saying it would be “prejudicial to the child”. 

Steven Miles
Queensland Premier Steven Miles says victims’ families should be able to attend children’s court. (Darren England/AAP PHOTOS)

The state government will now introduce legislative reforms to allow media greater access to youth courts.

“We want journalists to be able to cover these stories without letting the world know about things like a child’s history of abuse or mental health reports,” Mr Miles told parliament on Tuesday.

“I also believe victims’ families should be able to attend court, again with proper safeguards.

“Victims’ families deserve to see what happens when the court considers the fate of someone who harmed or killed their loved one – it is that simple.”

Mr Miles said he believed a balance of appropriate transparency and scrutiny of the courts would be legislated, following consultation with stakeholders.

The laws will be debated in parliament with the appropriate committee to provide an interim report by March 27.

“I’ve indicated that we have listened to the media and we have listened to victims and we will make sure that they have greater access to the courts,” Mr Miles said.

The Queensland government will also fast-track laws to ban knife sales to minors as it toughens its approach to youth crime.

Mr Miles said weapons that have been confiscated from juveniles would be brought into parliament this week to show what police were dealing with.

The premier said the government would also consider “on country” programs for First Nations kids in regional communities.

The Katter Australian Party has been advocating a policy of relocation sentencing in Queensland since 2017 and introduced it to the parliament in August 2023.

Under the proposed measure, juvenile offenders would be relocated to regional areas to work on the land and learn life skills in a bid to “break that cycle”.

“We’ve heard from not only the Katter’s but also from elders, from community leaders, from others that they believe they can deliver better on country programs,” Mr Miles said.

“That can help for young people to connect to country, to change the context that’s causing their offending, to take them away from the triggers of that offending and to give them intensive supports to break that cycle.” 

Mr Miles on Tuesday told parliament the government was putting the finishing touches on a relocation program and would outline more soon.

Queensland Greens leader Michael Berkman is waiting to hear more details before taking a position, saying any program involving First Nations kids had to involve Indigenous leaders.