Goodbye job applications, hello dream career
Seize control of your career and design the future you deserve with LW career

Class action launched against WA Dept of Corrective Services

Following complaints to the Australian Human Rights Commission about the conduct of Western Australia’s Department of Corrective Services (WADCS), class action proceedings are set to go ahead in the Federal Court.

user iconLauren Croft 16 November 2022 Big Law
Class action launched against WA Dept of Corrective Services
expand image

After calls for federal government intervention following the transfer of 17 teenagers moved from Banksia Hill youth detention centre to the adult, maximum security Casuarina Prison in Western Australia — many of which were Indigenous — the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) received a complaint from current and former inmates.

The complaint, brought to the AHRC in August by Levitt Robinson, alleged that current and former inmates of Banksia Hill and Rangeview detention centres in Western Australia were or are being subject to racial discrimination, disability discrimination and age discrimination by WADCS.

On Tuesday (15 November), the AHRC terminated the complaint; as president Rosalind Croucher made her decision pursuant to the Australian Human Rights Commission Act, finding that she is satisfied that there is no reasonable prospect of the matter being settled by conciliation.


This will allow Levitt Robinson to commence class action proceedings in the Federal Court of Australia within 60 days of the date of termination; by 13 January 2023.

This follows the airing of Four Corners documentary: Locking up Kids, which was screened on Monday, 14 November — for which West Australian Premier Mark McGowan said that he would at last launch an investigation into the matters described in the documentary.

In October, the firm filed an urgent injunction to maintain the human rights of the children who were forcibly transferred to a maximum-security adult prison. This came after Justice Tottle of the Western Australia Supreme Court declared on 25 August 2022 that the rolling lockdowns imposed on children at Banksia Hill Detention Centre were unlawful.

At the time, Stewart Levitt, senior partner at Levitt Robinson, said that rates of serious self-harm and suicide had skyrocketed in those that were forcibly transferred.

“The application for urgent injunction was necessary in circumstances where, despite our calls for WA Premier Mark McGowan to urgently intervene, address and stop the substantial human rights violations occurring within Unit 18, Premier McGowan and his West Australian Labor government have doubled down in defence of their decision to transfer more children to Unit 18 and allow the gross abuses of the human rights of highly vulnerable and severely disabled West Australian children to continue unabated,” he said in a statement.

The complaint spans the period from 1997, when the Banksia Hill facility was established and became the sole juvenile detention centre in Western Australia, up to the present date.

Back in July, Australia’s national children’s commissioner Anne Hollonds visited Banksia Hill Detention Centre — and, in an AHRC statement, said that the “crisis at Banksia Hill is just the pointy end of the long-term failure of child wellbeing policy and systems” in Australia.

“These are children in need of care and treatment for complex disabilities and serious mental health problems. Instead of receiving the care they need, these children are incarcerated in harmful conditions with life-long negative impacts on their health, education, and wellbeing,” she stated.

“Other countries have found ways to support the welfare of children instead of imprisoning them. Australia needs to make our children a national priority.”

You need to be a member to post comments. Become a member for free today!