Justice Health Unit collaborates on UN guidance for healthcare standards in youth detention

The Justice Health Unit, with support from Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI), is collaborating with UNICEF to develop a United Nations (UN) guidance document to support UN Member States to deliver healthcare for children and adolescents in criminal justice detention, in accordance with international norms and minimum standards. The Justice Health Unit's work on the UN guidance document is being led by Unit Head, Prof Stuart Kinner.

International evidence indicates that young people in detention frequently receive sub-optimal healthcare, importantly including mental health care. The health needs and rights of young people were highlighted when the findings of a UN Global Study on Children Deprived of Liberty were presented to the UN General Assembly in 2019. Among the overarching recommendations emerging from the UN Global Study was that “health services in detention shall be of a standard equivalent to that available in the community at large.”

The guidance document will:

  • summarise what is known about the health needs of detained children and adolescents, and the quality of health care provided in youth detention settings
  • articulate and critically review current international healthcare standards for children who experience criminal justice detention; and
  • provide key recommendations and develop a proposed model framework for the provision of healthcare, and for routine collection of physical and mental health information, in child detention settings.

A draft of this document will be presented to the UN Task Force on Follow up to the UN Global Study (UNTF), for their formal endorsement.