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WA juvenile detention centre under scrutiny with complaint to Human Rights Commission

Lawyers from Sydney law firm Levitt Robinson are acting for current and former Banksia Hill juvenile detainees, representing their complaint to the Australian Human Rights Commission about the conduct of Western Australia’s Department of Corrective Services (WADCS). The complaint calls for federal government intervention in the conduct. 

user iconJess Feyder 18 August 2022 SME Law
WA juvenile detention centre under scrutiny with complaint to Human Rights Commission
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Senior partner Stewart Levitt noted that all the child inmates transferred from Banksia Hill to the maximum-security adult prison Casuarina in the last month suffered from a form of mental disability. 

More than 80 per cent of the 17 juveniles transferred in the last month were Indigenous, meaning Indigenous children were 2,000 per cent overrepresented among this group. 

Mr Levitt noted that regarding their age, “they are being treated in a way which demonstrates that no reasonable regard is being paid to their psychological and physical needs, for healthy development into adulthood”. 


Casuarina reported its last Indigenous death in custody at the beginning of this month, Mr Levitt noted. 

Last Tuesday (16 August), during question time in the West Australian Parliament, the Honourable Brad Pettitt asked the West Australian minister about four juveniles who had swallowed glass in acts of serious and potentially fatal self-harm at Casuarina.

The West Australian reported last Friday (12 August) that there had been three suicide attempts and thirteen incidents of self-harm among child detainees transferred from Banksia Hill to Casuarina. 

Solicitor Dana Levitt, who has the day-to-day responsibility for preparations for the class action against the West Australian government, noted: “National Principles for Child Safety Organisations have been serially and seriously breached by the West Australian government.

“There is the notable absence of suitably trained prison officers and serious operational constraints at Casuarina, which make the rehabilitation of the kids there an even more remote possibility, than had they been continued to be interned at Banksia Hill, which at least is a purpose-built facility for juveniles.” 

Last month, West Australian Premier Mark McGowan announced an additional $25 million dollars funding for Banksia Hill to improve the facility. 

“Premier McGowan should know, this is not about the architecture of the building; it is about the architecture of the system,” said Mr Levitt.

Mr Levitt continued: “The federal government has the constitutional right to become involved where there is clear evidence of mistreatment of indigenous children among the youth transferred from Banksia Hill to Casuarina Maximum Security Adult Prison and also, of people with disabilities. 

“All of the kids at Casuarina, moved from Banksia Hill, fit that bill, too. 

“It is one thing to shed tears about the Uluru Statement and quite another, to save young lives which are being destroyed even while the referendum question to be put to voters is being drafted.”