State Government to ban ‘appalling’ spit hoods in Youth Justice system

25 Sep 2019 newsmedia

The State Government has announced it will ban the use of spit hoods in the Adelaide Youth Training Centre (AYTC).

Spit hoods – head coverings designed to prevent young people in residence from spitting on or biting others – have been used in the youth training system since 2014.

They have been used 57 times between October 2016 and June, this year.

Their use has reduced significantly to only 5 uses in 2018-19 and they have not been used at all since the end of March, 2019.

The commitment to ban the use of spit hoods comes on the back of an Ombudsman report released today on their use at the AYTC in 2016 and 2017.

The State Government has accepted all three spit-hood recommendations made by the Ombudsman and will ban their use by June 2020.

Minister for Human Services Michelle Lensink said it was “unacceptable” that South Australia remained the only jurisdiction in the country that still relied on the use of spit hoods for protecting staff from disease transmission.

“Spit hoods are a legacy policy that simply have no place in a modern, therapeutic environment,” said Minister Lensink.

“That’s why we are moving to ban this strategy in our youth training system, in favour of other more appropriate ways that balance the rights and welfare of young people with the safety of staff."

“Our priority is the safety and wellbeing of our young people and staff."

“A transition period to phase out the use of spit hoods, as supported by the Ombudsman, will give us time to identify, source and implement appropriate alternative options, including training staff in new techniques to ensure a safe transition for both staff and young people.”

The Ombudsman made a fourth recommendation regarding the use of force in the AYTC and the Department has committed to a review on the use of force and restraint in the system to ensure force is only ever used as a last resort.

“The use of force is an absolute last resort for staff,” said Minister Lensink.