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Banksia Hill YDC Needs Urgent Cultural Change

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Banksia Hill YDC Needs Urgent Cultural Change

Perth, Australia – 14-Aug-2018

Lawyers for two young men held in solitary confinement demand genuine systemic reform

“Today’s Report into Western Australia’s Banksia Hill Detention Centre seriously underplays mistreatment of children in the youth prison”, Adjunct Professor George Newhouse, CEO of the National Justice Project said today.

Today, the Inspector of Custodial Services in WA has released his seventh report on Banksia Hill Youth Detention Centre in six years. The report notes that children have been treated in a cruel, inhumane and degrading manner.

“This report is a good start, but the mere fact that there have been so many reports in recent years shows that there is a serious problem in Banksia Hill and that the recommendations of the Inspector are not being taken seriously. The problems in this Centre have been well known for over half a decade, but essential cultural change remains elusive,” Professor Newhouse said.

“What really worries me is that those involved have told me that the situation at Banksia Hill is actually much worse than what comes through in the Inspector’s report. I have been told about the excessive use of solitary confinement, restraints, strip searching and other harmful practices. The problems are much broader than the two cases examined in the report. These kids are not receiving adequate education, rehabilitation programmes or proper medical care: these are fundamental human rights that are being denied to children. It is time for the government to stop reviewing this dire situation and to act to protect the children in its care.”

“Close family members of some of the boys have told us that they are disappointed in the Inspector’s report. They feel that the report overlooks some of their most serious concerns and downplays allegations of cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment of children and that the Inspector spends too much time criticising advocates and defending the Government.

“The Inspector found that there was insufficient evidence that some of events occurred. It’s unclear why that evidence doesn’t exist, when there should have been incident reports and CCTV recordings kept at the time. These findings do not mean that the mistreatment that our clients have reported did not happen. We are also concerned that the Inspector has failed to make recommendations about CCTV and the use of body cameras to ensure that evidence of inhumane behaviour is adequately recorded in the future.

Solitary confinement is punitive and is an inappropriate response to psychological or behavioural issues in adolescents. Rule 67 of the United Minimum Standards for the Protection of Juveniles

Deprived of their Liberty (the Havana Rules) prohibits “All disciplinary measures constituting cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment ... including ... closed or solitary confinement or any other punishment that may compromise the physical or mental health of the juvenile concerned.”

“It’s time for WA’s decision-makers to implement procedures that will keep kids in detention safe. Juvenile detention should be a place where kids get a chance to reflect on their lives and set themselves up for their lives ahead. The current practices do the drag them down.”

We call on the WA government to:

• • Urgently reform rules relating to retention of records in juvenile detention and in particular CCTV and body camera footage should be kept for at least two years;

• • All staff involved in cell escorts and all the use of force in detention must wear body cameras and the cameras must be operating at all times

• Ensure that there is urgent reform of the WA Young Offenders Act and regulations to ensure that: • there are clear rules in place, and followed, that prohibit solitary confinement;

• activities in the ISU (Isolation Unit) within Banksia Hill are recorded at all times,

• all children have access to proper medical care and education; and

• all children in detention are assessed for mental illness and other health problems and, if illness or problems are found, treated for those conditions.


ABOUT THE NATIONAL JUSTICE PROJECT

The National Justice Project is a not for profit legal service. We combine strategic legal action with effective advocacy to advance human rights and social justice.

Our CEO acted for Coral Williams in her case against Joe Francis MLA in 2013 following the first Banksia Hill Riots see Coral Wilson v Joseph Michael Francis MLA & Anor [2013] WASC 157

For further information please visit our website – www.justice.org.au


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