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Spit hoods to be banned in SA

Controversial spit hoods will no longer be used in South Australian youth justice facilities, after the State Government promised to act on a recommendation to ban the restraint devices.

Human Services Minister Michelle Lensink this afternoon revealed the State Government would reduce the use of the restraint device, intended to prevent someone from spitting or biting.

She said it was "unacceptable" that South Australia remained the only jurisdiction in the country that still relied on the use of spit hoods to protect staff from disease transmission.

"Spit hoods are a legacy policy that simply have no place in a modern, therapeutic environment," Ms Lensink told Parliament.

"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."

Spit hoods are set to be banned in youth justice facilities in South Australia. Image courtesy of NZ Police.
Spit hoods are set to be banned in youth justice facilities in South Australia. Image courtesy of NZ Police.

 

Surgical masks with eye shields similar to this are used by WA youth custodial officers instead of putting spit hoods on juveniles.
Surgical masks with eye shields similar to this are used by WA youth custodial officers instead of putting spit hoods on juveniles.

Ms Lensink said a transition period to phase out the use of spit hoods, as supported by SA Ombudsman Wayne Lines, would give the government time to identify, source and implement appropriate alternative options, including training staff in new techniques.

Ms Lensink said the State Government would also implement a review into the use of force and restraint in the Adelaide Youth Training Centre following a recommendation from Mr Lines.

"The use of force is an absolute last resort for staff," Ms Lensink said.

"Young people at the Adelaide Youth Training Centre can present with very difficult and challenging behaviour, many with significant histories of trauma and violence, who have been found guilty of serious crimes.

"With this in mind, management can often be challenging and even with the best strategies, incidents can occur.

"Staff are trained in specialised behaviour support techniques to de-escalate behaviour aimed at reducing incidents.

"We have acted swiftly on the Ombudsman's recommendations and I am pleased Mr Lines commended staff at the Adelaide Youth Training Centre and the Department for how they have already achieved reductions in the use of spit hoods."

Liberal MP Michelle Lensink
Liberal MP Michelle Lensink

Spit hoods have been used in the youth training system since 2014.

They have been used 57 times between October 2016 and June 2019.

Ms Lensink said the use of spit hoods had reduced significantly - to only five uses in 2018-19 - and they had not been used at all since the end of March 2019.



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