Families of Banksia Hill detainees speak out following transfers to Casuarina Prison

Families of Banksia Hill detainees speak out following transfers to Casuarina Prison

Family members of youth detainees who were relocated to an adult maximum security prison say the move will trap their children in a cycle of violence with little hope for rehabilitation.

Seventeen teenagers were temporarily relocated last week from Banksia Hill Juvenile Detention Center to Casuarina Prison after a recent “escalation in extreme behaviour”.

“They don’t know where these kids come from. Most of them had to experience trauma as babies,” a grandmother said.

“Treating juveniles harshly… they grow up with it, they can’t break out of it. They start building up resentment and a hatred for authority.

“They’ve had so much violence in their lives, that worries me. That’s our future. That’s our children.”

A mother of another youth detainee says her child spoke to an adult prisoner in Casuarina Prison, despite the Department of Justice saying there would be no contact.

The youth detainees were relocated last Wednesday to a temporary center at Casuarina Prison.(ABCNews)

“They locked him down all day [on Sunday for] 23 hours,” she said.

“They let him out to go to the toilet, and then they put him back in.

“In the one hour when he went to the toilet, he was speaking to an adult prisoner through the mesh, through the fence.”

Casuarina the ‘least worst option’

WA Commissioner for Children and Young People Jacqueline McGowan-Jones says the temporary facility built for the youth detainees is separate from the main prison.

“It’s probably about three to four hundred meters distance between the cell blocks, and the fence has been blacked out so they can’t see the adult detainees,” she said.

Ms McGowan-Jones said the facilities in the temporary cell block were “perfect”, but the fact it was located in an adult maximum security prison was concerning.

A spacious room with several long tables and benches with a green floor.
The dining room where the details from Banksia Hill will be served their meals. (Supplied)

She pointed out an incident in 2013 when dozens of youth detainees were temporarily relocated to Hakea Prison after a riot, and received violent threats from adult prisoners.

“That hasn’t happened yet, but it potentially could,” she said.

“The lack of investment into Banksia over many, many years has been seen with the least worst option [which has been] to move them here.”

An outdoor basketball court on a cloudy day surrounded by a high fence
The department says the youth detainees will have access to secure recreational facilities at Casuarina.(Supplied)

Children blamed for ‘system failures’

The youth justice system disproportionately incarcerates disadvantaged children, and little has been done to effectively address the issue, according to Australian National Children’s Commissioner Anne Hollonds.

“The children are being blamed for the problems which, really, are the result of the long-term failure of our systems,” she said.

Anne Hollonds sits in a park
Anne Hollonds has called for a national roadmap to improve the youth justice system.(ABC News: Ellen de Bruijne)

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