Former worker claims abuse was rife at Cleveland Youth Detention Centre in Queensland.

By Brigid Andersen and Zoe Ferguson

New claims of brutality have emerged from a Queensland juvenile detention centre in the wake of this week’s Four Corners report into abuse at a Northern Territory facility.

Shayleen Solomon, a youth worker at the Cleveland Youth Detention Centre in Townsville, told Lateline physical and emotional abuse was rife in the north Queensland centre.

Ms Solomon worked at Cleveland for almost six years from 2009.

She described an incident in 2012 in which she alleges a 15-year-old boy was involved in a physical altercation with a group of male staff.

Ms Solomon said she was returning the boy to his room when he yelled out at the group of men.

“[He was saying] ‘I’ll have a go at you’, stuff like that. So they came out and absolutely trashed this boy,” she said.

“There were 15 fully grown men on top of this child. They had him in a sort of crucifix position trying to bend his arms back behind his body to put handcuffs on him.

“The young boy was head butting the ground because he was face down. He had blood coming out of his forehead. There was no room to move.

“I was the worker that went down and put my hands underneath his head to stop him hurting himself more. And he was pleading with them to stop and everything, but they didn’t.”

‘They strip them of everything’

Ms Solomon’s claims follow similar allegations of abuse made earlier this week at the Cleveland centre.


Ms Solomon said the Four Corners report on the Northern Territory’s Don Dale detention centre proved incidents like this had been going on for too long.

She alleged that she regularly witnessed verbal and emotional abuse of detainees at the Cleveland centre.

“They strip them of everything … they strip them of all their self-esteem.”

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has ordered a royal commission into the juvenile detention system in the Northern Territory.

But many people, including Eileen Baldry, a Professor of Criminology at the University of New South Wales, have said its scope should be widened.

Professor Baldry said mistreatment of children was systemic in every jurisdiction.

“It’s in Northern Queensland, Victoria, we know Western Australia, we know that virtually every other jurisdiction has instances of abuse of children in detention, in out of home care, in a range of places,” she said.

“I really think that we need a completely different approach to this and a royal commission might be helpful to uncover things but it’s not going to be the solution.”


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This post originally appeared on ABC News.