Responding to reports regarding the treatment of children in Western Australia’s Banskia Hill Youth Detention Centre, Amnesty International Australia Indigenous Rights Lead Campaigner, Maggie Munn, said:
“I am disgusted to see what children in Banksia Hill are subject to. The majority of those children are First Nations kids and for nearly 300 years this country has insisted that these kids are not worth anything, that they deserve to be treated like animals in a cage, and the WA government continues to perpetuate this colonial violence.
“This is a message to Western Australian Premier Mark McGowan: your government is responsible for these babies, and you continue to expose them to an environment that will kill them.
“This is not new information, Amnesty International Australia’s own investigation in 2017 raised concerns about torture in this facility – and it appears nothing at all has changed. Countless reports sit on the desks of politicians in every state and territory in this country that point to how harmful prison is for children, and yet despite empty promises to commit to reforming youth justice, supporting First Nations kids, governments do nothing and our communities continue to suffer.
“If governments in this country are genuinely serious about making sustainable change and preventing harm here’s a quick list of what they can do: raise the age of criminal responsibility to at least 14, get kids out of prison, give children access to therapeutic, trauma-informed care, and restorative justice, invest in diversion programs to create sustainable change, and listen to First Nations communities.
“When are we going to accept that putting children into these brutal conditions harms them and simply doesn’t work to get them back on track?
“Time and time again, diversion has been shown to be far more effective in addressing kids’ needs and helping them go on to lead healthy and happy lives away from the criminal justice system.”
All kids have the right to be free, happy and safe – including First Nations kids. It’s time to put an end to the barbaric treatment of our children and overhaul our response to youth crime. Mistreatment of children is never okay. Act now and learn more about our child rights and Indigenous justice campaigns.