The Guardian • Issue #2057

WA: Hopes for change on youth justice

  • The Guardian
  • Issue #2057
youth behind fence

Photo: Mitchel Lensink ( – Public domain.

WA’s Inspector of Custodial Services Eamon Ryan has released a damning report on conditions inside Banksia Hill Youth Detention Centre.

Ryan prepared the report after he and his team spent 10 days inside WA’s two dedicated youth detention facilities, Banksia Hill and Unit 18 housed within Casuarina adult prison.

The report describes frequent lockdowns, self-harm incidents, staff shortages and damaged facilities.

Ryan said he and his team “saw young people, staff and a physical environment in acute crisis.”

The report found the prison had struggled to recruit staff and the number of people quitting was unusually high.

“The help these young people need and the effective rehabilitation they require are exactly the types of interventions (education, programs, recreation, training, family reconnection, general health and mental health) that have been most heavily impacted by staffing shortages and increased lockdowns,” Ryan said.

The report made a series of recommendations, including that a second youth custodial facility be built and constructed “that meets the complex needs of different cohorts of young people.”

Nyungar-Nyiyaparli-Yamatji advocate and Curtin University legal academic Emma Garlett agreed a second facility for youth on remand would help.

“Western Australia used to have a remand centre, but then they stopped that, and now we don’t,” she said.

“It’s important; it needs to happen. I think that’s a great recommendation.”

“There really needs to a therapeutic approach taken for young people,” she said.

“The last place they need to end up is in Banskia Hill. They need to stay with their families and they need to stay with communities, and there needs to be a lot of diversion programs happen as well.”

New WA Premier Roger Cook has appointed Paul Papalia as Corrective Services Minister, making him responsible for the crisis-plagued Banksia Hill Youth Detention Centre.

“This is a priority for me and I’ve made it clear to Minister Papalia that it’s a priority for him,” Premier Cook told The West Australian.

Ngaarda Media (edited for reasons of space)

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