Damning Report on Youth Detention in WA

Urgent need for medical care, education and Indigenous Culture

The National Justice Project welcomes the report of the WA Inspector of Custodial Services into the Youth Detention Centre at Banksia Hill but notes the problems inside the WA Youth detention system remain unaddressed and children’s lives are being destroyed by inaction.

George Newhouse, Principal Solicitor at the NJP and Adjunct Professor of Law at Macquarie University, said “Children’s lives are being destroyed before they even begin. One third of youth detainees in Banksia Hill have foetal alcohol spectrum disorder and 90% have significant neurodevelopmental impairment, according to the Inspector’s report. These needs are not being addressed. Instead we know of children who have been placed in solitary confinement for over 250 days.

“Instead of locking up and punishing these kids, they need specialised medical care, education and a sense of identity through their culture. Without addressing these fundamental needs, we are setting them up for a lifetime in and out of prison – at a cost which is likely to be many times more than treating their health needs now.”

Banksia Hill has been a stain on the WA justice system for many years, as the inspector’s report makes clear. This is an opportunity for the new McGowan government to step up and make lasting change and have a real impact on children’s lives.

“Youth detention should be a place where young people can stabilise their lives and become contributing members of our society. Failing to confront the problems at Banksia Hill just perpetuates the problem,” Professor Newhouse said.

The National Justice Project is investigating legal action against the WA government on behalf of the detainees.