The Opposition has condemned the McGowan Labor Government for failing to manage the youth justice system, following revelations of appalling treatment of children at Banksia Hill Detention Centre.
Opposition Leader Mia Davies has called for an independent inquiry into the youth justice system, including Banksia Hill as the State’s only remand and detention centre in Western Australia.
“Instead of instigating an open and transparent inquiry for families, former detainees, communities and experts to contribute, the Premier has chosen to host a private meeting behind closed doors with selected stakeholders,” Ms Davies said.
Ms Davies also called for the Minister for Corrective Services to resign, saying the report on ABC’s Four Corners on Monday indicated he had been asleep at the wheel as issues at the centre spun out of control.
“The Minister had not taken the time to educate himself on practices or operational challenges at Banksia Hill despite a growing chorus of experts,” she said.
“The Government is failing detainees, the community and staff working in the system.
“It’s time for the Premier to stand the Minister down and take responsibility for a broken system.”
Shadow Corrective Services Minister Peter Collier said the Minister had been dealing with the issue from a punitive perspective, which had resulted in tragic consequences for Western Australia’s most vulnerable young people.
“In 2021, more than 350 juveniles attempted self-harm as a result of being held in youth detention centres, which is completely unacceptable,” Mr Collier said.
“The key objective of Banksia Hill should be rehabilitation in an environment which is constructive, not destructive, but at the moment this facility is not delivering on that outcome.
“These juveniles have a plethora of social, mental, and physical issues which require complex solutions, but the Minister decides locking them up in adult prisons is the way to handle it.”
Leader of the WA Liberals Dr David Honey said it was clear Corrective Services Minister Johnston has not had the time required to properly focus on the Corrective Services portfolio and needed to be moved on.
“We need to see effective rehabilitation of the children in Banksia Hill, not just punishment,” Dr Honey said.
“The Opposition has asked for a wide-ranging review of the youth justice system because it is clearly failing – failing the community who need protection and the children who are at serious risk of a life of incarceration.
“Early intervention is the only way we can break the cycle but the McGowan Government is denying that there are any significant problems – according to the Premier, the system is fine and the problem is the children.
“Because of it, many communities are living in fear of serious crime and a whole generation of children are having their lives stolen.”