Turnbull must intervene in Don Dale style abuse of children in WA

Prime Minister Turnbull must urgently step in to protect children in Western Australia, following the Independent Inspector of Custodial Services’ findings of shocking abuse in Banksia youth detention centre.

“Today’s revelations are the latest in the avalanche of horrors spilling out from youth detention centres around the country. The brutal abuses of children in WA detention are as bad as those reported in Don Dale, Cleveland and Reiby,” said Roxanne Moore, Indigenous Rights Campaigner at Amnesty International Australia.

“Spit hoods, solitary confinement, and alleged sexual assault. The Special Operations Group using chemical agents and flash bombs, and aiming firearms and shotgun laser sights at children. And soaring rates of self-harm and attempted suicide. This is the stuff of nightmares – and it’s all been happening in Banksia.”

“What’s worse, the Inspector found evidence that the Department of Corrective Services tried to cover up the abuse. The Inspector found inaccurate recording and reporting of the time children spent locked down in their cells. CCTV footage of critical incidents has been “wiped” and records altered to look like the Government was following the law.”

“How much suffering should children endure across Australia, before Prime Minister Turnbull admits this is a national crisis?”

“Prime Minister Turnbull cannot stand by, knowing that a young girl in Banksia was locked in solitary confinement for three days, and found soaked in her own urine from distress,” said Roxanne Moore.

The Inspector found that in December 2016, girls were moved to an inappropriate unit, not suitable for their needs, resulting in 78 incidents involving girls from December 2016 to March 2017.

Many of the abuses have happened to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, who are 44 times more likely to be in detention than non-Indigenous children in WA.

Self-harm and attempted suicide in Banksia has skyrocketed, with 196 incidents in 2016, doubling the rates of previous year. There already have been 76 incidents of self-harm and one attempted suicide this year.

The Inspector found that many young people have a cognitive impairment, but the Government was not doing enough to identify these children, so that they may get the care they need.

The Inspector has called for a rehabilitative, trauma informed approach to justice.

“We’ve now seen abuses of children in detention right around the country – from Don Dale, Cleveland, Bimberi, Reiby and now to Banksia. It’s critical now that Prime Minister Turnbull overhauls the ‘injustice system’. He must commit to a national action plan – working with states and territories – that focuses on supporting children, their families and communities,” said Roxanne Moore.