More Allegations in WA’s Banksia Hill Juvenile Prison Scandal


More allegations of child abuse at Perth’s troubled Banksia Hill detention center have surfaced, with advocates calling on the McGowan government to stop “demonising” prisoners.

Detainees are being held in “shocking and horrific” conditions that further damage already vulnerable children, it was told at a press conference for a class action against the Western Australian government over the treatment of up to 500 detainees.

Social justice campaigner Gerry Georgatos said the detained children have no access to rehabilitation or adequate medical care.

He said he had witnessed “appalling and abhorrent behavior” towards inmates, insisting that a state government statement that there was access to therapeutic services was untrue.

“It’s actually an outright lie and outrageous by the government,” he told reporters on Friday. “It does not exist.”

Intergenerational trauma

Attorney Stewart Levitt said many of the children were often victims of intergenerational trauma who needed support and education so they could become contributing members of society.

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“It’s not accepted in Australia, we just want to bash and hurt and punish and act like we can just effectively send these kids to dungeons, or treat them like vermin or vermin,” he said.

“That’s a totally inhumane approach.”

Former WA Children’s Court President Denis Reynolds has detailed the case of a boy who appeared in court in November.

He said the 15-year-old suffered from fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder and multiple severe learning disabilities.

A pediatrician recommended that he be put on a support program while incarcerated, but instead he was locked in a holding cell for more than 20 hours a day for 42 consecutive days due to alleged staff shortages, Mr Reynolds said.

The teen was also allegedly unlawfully transferred to the adult prison, Casuarina Prison, for 51 days and held in solitary confinement.

“He tried to commit suicide,” Reynolds said.

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“The Prime Minister and the Minister say these are bad kids who are behaving badly [and] willfully ignoring any reference to the unlawful treatment.”

Political smokescreen?

Mr Reynolds claimed Prime Minister Mark McGowan was misleading the public, and the problem the government needed to address was the unlawful and inhumane treatment of children.

Former Australian of the Year Fiona Stanley said the WA government ignored evidence about the children that showed the current punitive approach on Banksia Hill would not work.

“They need to understand that children are born with brain damage (and they) shouldn’t be confined in these conditions,” she said.

WA Greens MP Brad Petitt said some children were sent to Casuarina “almost immediately” from Banksia Hill and that the government’s statement that only those who were difficult to manage was not true.

Dr. Petitt, who recently visited the facility, said the government had failed to provide the requested information and transparency was lacking.

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He said he witnessed “extraordinary” treatment of detainees by riot police downtown, with some forced to back down the stairs.

13-year-old in solitary confinement

Mr Levitt said parents of prisoners were denied access to information about their children, as were experts seeking to inspect conditions at Banksia Hill.

He accused the WA government of withholding internal audit reports and public service whistleblowers were “frozen” because their careers had been ruined for speaking out.

The allegations come about a week after an affidavit in Federal Court revealed that a teenage girl with autism was confined to a Banksia Hill cell for up to 23 hours a day and was denied visitation by her parents as punishment.

In the documents, Mr Levitt claimed the 13-year-old was handcuffed and handcuffed and routinely subjected to rough treatment, including having her head banged against a wall.