The Commissioner for Children and Young People Colin Pettit has supported the key findings of a report into behaviour management practices at Banksia Hill Detention Centre and called for a renewed focus on rehabilitation in juvenile justice.
Mr Pettit said the vast majority of the young people in the youth justice system have experienced significant trauma and neglect in their lives and this is a major reason why they end up offending.
“This means that every decision made about them, and every response to a behaviour, should be aimed at their rehabilitation, which will also help ensure they are held fully responsible for their actions,” Mr Pettit said.
“The report by the Inspector of Custodial Services identifies clearly that Banksia Hill Detention Centre is not structurally suitable to providing this type of support and management, and this is contributing to problems with reform processes and staff morale.”
The Commissioner said he understood the tight fiscal environment faced by the new government but there were few higher priorities than giving extremely vulnerable children and young people a second chance and protecting the community from further offending.
“To provide a safer community and better results for young people, families and the community, Banksia Hill needs to be ‘unpacked’,” Mr Pettit said.
“This means ensuring young people in detention are separated into different facilities according to gender and age, and by the nature of their offending.
“There is no doubt that young people who exhibit violent and dangerous behaviours need to be located in a secure facility under strict control, but this is a very small number of young people.
“The majority of young people in detention should be located in smaller, regional facilities where services for both young people and their families can be better coordinated and supportive relationships maintained.
“Young people in the youth justice system have told me that education, a safe and supportive place to live and help to overcome mental health and alcohol and drug problems are vital to creating a better future.
“It is important that the views of young people with these experiences are heard and responded to.”
The Commissioner said he will be meeting with the Inspector, government ministers and department officials to progress the implementation of recommendations from this report.