This article examines for the first time to what extent the lived food-related experiences of incarcerated children match principles proclaimed in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Charter of Rights for Children and Young People Detained in Training Centres. In doing so, consideration is given to the broader personal, situational and structural factors that frame their lives. Drawing on interviews with 40 detainee’s aged 10–19 years at the Kurlana Tapa Youth Justice Centre in South Australia, what young people’s accounts reveal is that food is a punitive aspect of the custodial experience, particularly in so far as it fails to reflect cultural expectations or preferences. Additional institutional consultation with residents and changes to foodservice are needed to ensure cultural appropriateness in the detention environment, to promote the right of the child or young person to practice their culture, and to positively influence young people’s lives while they are in custody, and after their release.
- juvenile detention
- youth rights
- culturally and linguistically diverse