A grey concrete building with guard tower, seen through razor wire fencing.

Banksia Hill Riot Squad uses force on 16-year-old boy

Chilling footage from 2022 of Banksia Hill riot squad using force on a 16-year-old boy has been released, highlighting yet another unacceptable and outrageous case of child abuse, and a youth justice system that is fundamentally broken. The footage depicts riot squad officers that shackle and restrain the teenager in a banned “figure four” hold, in the midst of a mental health crisis. The footage also depicted the teenager expressing suicidal ideation, as officers locked him in chains, leaving him bound in a cell. Amnesty International Australia condemns the WA Government for the horrendous treatment of this young person within their Banksia Hill Youth Detention facility.

Following the release of the footage, it is clear that the use of force was extreme and unwarranted, inflicting heavy trauma upon the teenage boy, and justice experts have called for a “far greater level of transparency” from the department.

Amnesty International Australia’s Community Engagement Associate Campaigner, Rachael McPhail, said: “The bodycam footage is genuinely shocking, and our thoughts go out to this young person, their mob and community. It’s devastating to see any young person be treated in this manner, when they really need care and compassion in a mental health crisis.

“Where is the trauma-informed care? Where were the mental health clinicians and social workers? Why was the riot squad sent in to respond to a kid saying they wanted to self-harm? These are systemic factors that we have seen time and time again lead to Aboriginal deaths in custody, and we call on the WA Government to have greater transparency and accountability surrounding incidences of unwarranted force and dangerous practices in youth detention facilities.”

Rachael McPhail, Community Engagement Associate Campaigner

The recent release of this footage comes after the suicide death of 16-year-old teenager, Cleveland Dodd in Unit 18 youth wing of Casuarina Prison, Western Australia in October, 2023.

Amnesty International Australia urges the WA Government, and all other state and territory governments to put an end to the inhumane and degrading treatment and punitive measures inflicted upon its youth in detention, by implementing the Royal Commission’s recommendations that tackle the root causes of imprisonment, focusing on diverting young people away from detention.


In 2012 the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) said that Australia’s juvenile justice system required substantial reform before it would meet international standards, noting, for example, that children in Australia are held criminally responsible from the age of 10, two years younger than the CRC’s internationally acceptable minimum.

In 2017, Australia ratified the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT), established to ensure governments were protecting the rights, health and safety of people in any kind of detention facility, including prisons, youth detention centres, immigration detention, hospital, aged care and disability facilities.

In 2021, 30 countries of the United Nations Human Rights Council publicly condemned the Australian government for the grave human rights violations being committed in its detention and prison facilities.

In January 2023, OPCAT was forced to cancel its planned visit to inspect Australia’s detention and prison facilities, as the Australian government failed to meet its deadline in implementing its commitments to the OPCAT convention.