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Concerns about plan to move young detainees to adult prison.

Commissioner for Children and Young People concerned about plan to move Banksia Hill Detention Centre detainees to adult prison.

Commissioner for Children and Young People, Jacqueline McGowan-Jones is raising concerns about the decision to move 20 young people from Banksia Hill Detention Centre to a maximum-security adult prison. Moving detainees to an adult facility is not addressing the underlying issues of lack of resources, a facility that is not fit-for-purpose and embedded systemic practices.

The Commissioner is raising her concerns with the Minister for Corrective Services and the Department of Justice.

While the plan is to house the Banksia Hill Detention Centre detainees in a separate wing at Casuarina Prison; total separation is not logistically possible which is cause for concern. The move is in violation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child which requires every child deprived of liberty to be separated from adults.

With children as young as 14 years being selected to move to the adult facility; a clearer understanding of the proposal, its implementation and timeframe is needed.

The Commissioner is calling for increased focus on investment in community support and services with more prevention, diversion and rehabilitation programs and more restorative justice approaches.

It is time to put a serious focus on a comprehensive child and family wellbeing approach that has emphasis on supporting the wellbeing of future generations instead of focusing on a crisis response.

The Commissioner acknowledges that Department of Justice has been working to improve conditions at Banksia Hill Detention Centre with a number of initiatives and additional staffing but also advocates that there is an urgent need for investment in a trauma informed model that supports the intensive needs of the young people, in particular their mental health, physical health and social, emotional and cultural wellbeing.

Ms McGowan-Jones has requested to view the facility to see first-hand its suitability to house children and young people.


Comments attributed to Commissioner for Children and Young People, Jacqueline McGowan-Jones:

“We need to look further than facility options and start to address the root cause of social disadvantage.

“Restorative justice approaches are a crucial element missing for children and young people in Western Australia.

“The vast majority of young people in the youth justice system have experienced significant trauma in their lives, resulting in criminal behaviour and may have cognitive impairments and other psycho-social disabilities.

“This means that every decision made about them, and every response to their behaviour needs to be aimed toward rehabilitation.

“Detention of young people should be a last resort, but if needed, a concerted effort needs to be made in prevention, diversion and rehabilitation.

“New models that include restorative justice approaches need to be considered as a priority.

“Effective and consistent use of diversion programs is an important strategy that produces better results for young people and the community than detention.

“I have been assured that detainees placed in Casuarina Prison will have access to education and other youth services.

“This is of utmost importance and we will be monitoring this closely.

“I look forward to working with Minister Johnston and the Department of Justice to develop a workable plan while also ensuring the safely and rights for all involved.”


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