The Commissioner for Children and Young People Colin Pettit said he was very disappointed to see The West Australian’s cartoon on Friday 2 December which completely misrepresented vulnerable West Australian young people in detention.
“The real story is that the vast majority of young people in detention have experienced terrible neglect, family violence or other trauma since the earliest years of their life that would shock most West Australians,” Mr Pettit said.
“The ongoing issues being experienced at Banksia Hill Detention Centre are very complex and distressing for all involved.
“I do not condone violent behaviour but our entire focus must be on providing these young people every opportunity to overcome the multiple challenges they face and build a positive future.”
Later this week the Commissioner is releasing a landmark report – Speaking Out About Youth Justice – which outlines the views of 92 young people who are in contact with the WA justice system.
“The content of this report is at times distressing but many young people expressed a deep insight into what has led them into a life of crime and are desperate to change their lives for the better,” Mr Pettit said.
“The issues at Banksia Hill need to be resolved, but building understanding of the real reasons behind these young people’s behaviour and encouraging community support of rehabilitation is vital to create safer communities.
“Reinforcing simplistic and misinformed perceptions of why young people offend provides no value to community discussion about youth justice and community safety whatsoever.”
The published cartoon features young people 'rioting' within Banksia Hill Detention Centre, with a young person saying, "Yo, Let's smash the place up."
Another young person responds, "Duh, Yair... then we can protest because we have to live in third world conditions."