Responding to the Western Australian government’s statement on moving children from Banksia Hill Detention Centre to the maximum security Casuarina Prison, Amnesty International Australia Indigenous Rights Lead, Maggie Munn, said:
“Time and time again we have heard just how bad conditions are in Banksia Hill. In fact, District Court Judge Hylton Quail was quoted saying ‘When you treat a damaged child like an animal, they will behave like one and if you want a monster this is how you do it’.
“And yet the Western Australian government’s response to unacceptable conditions and harmful behaviours at Banksia Hill is to move these kids to a maximum security jail.
“We should be shocked and outraged that despite United Nations member states calling on Australia to do better for our kids, they decide that putting them in a maximum security prison is the solution.
“When will governments accept what child health and development experts have been saying for years – that kids don’t belong in prison. It’s not just that they don’t belong though – keeping them in an adult prison – in separate accommodation or otherwise – contravenes our obligations under the Conventions on the Rights of the Child.
“Doubling down on punitive measures to deal with complex issues is going to have the same tragic and predictable consequences that have seen more than 500 Aborginal deaths in custody since the Royal Commission.
“It breaks my heart that our kids are being treated this way and not supported and nurtured to deal with their trauma and health issues so they can have the same chance as we’d want for any Australian kid: to be happy and healthy.”
In July 2017 the extreme suffering endured by children in Banksia Hill was revealed following findings from the Inspector of Custodial Services including the use of spit hoods, solitary confinement, alleged sexual assault, and soaring rates of self-harm and attempted suicide.
Amnesty International made initial contact with the Minister for Corrective Services about one case in December 2017, and a second case in January 2018.
In early 2018 Amnesty International called for the Intensive Support Unit at Banksia Hill to be immediately closed pending investigation, following serious allegations of abuse of young people which may amount to torture. Amnesty has consistently called for an end to the use of solitary confinement.