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Justice failing state’s kids as young as 10

Justice failing state’s kids as young as 10

Justice failing state’s kids as young as 10

By Bill Rowlings, CEO of CLA

WA juvenile jail is in turmoil, facing more unrest with children smashing cells after their human rights have been violated by the government, they claim.

Banksia Hill held 51 kids aged 12 or younger, including one 10-year-old, at 30 April 2022. WA has so far refused to raise the age of criminal responsibility to the nationally-recommended 14.

WA Department of Justice (DOJ) Director-General, Dr Adam Tomison, has told a parliamentary inquiry that about 100 cells at the 250-capacity Banksia Hill kids’ jail were out of action in mid-June 2022.

If Tomison can’t fix the problem – he has been in the job since 2016 – who can? The WA government’s DOJ website says: “Dr Adam Tomison is internationally recognised as an expert in the prevention of child abuse and family violence, and the development of child protection.”

Tell that to the rioting children of Banksia Hill. They are smashing toilets, beds and communication gear and breaking apart the walls between cells because of the conditions in which Dr Tomison, as DOJ head honcho, holds them.

Maybe it’s time for Dr Tomison to stand up to the vested interests in the legal-police-prisons industrial complex, and demand more funds and support for health, mental health, education and human rights in prisons in WA, particular in the kids’ jail, Banksia.

WA’s custodial services inspector Eamon Ryan revealed in April that there were 24 suicide attempts at the juvenile jail between January and November 2021, mostly by boys forming a suicide pact while held in an internal jail punishment system of cells.

Ryan found the human rights of four detainees had been breached across several days in November when they spent less than an hour outside their cells.

The McGowan government, in a panicked response to the suicide revelations, promised $25 million to Banksia Hill, largely to fund infrastructure upgrades. 2206

‘Justice’ system is not fit for purpose

The problem with Banksia Hill, all jails in WA and the state’s police and legal system is that it is not fit for purpose. It hasn’t been so for years, and it is getting worse, CLA says.

Squillions of dollars have been wasted on polly perks, subsidising the big end of town and mining, and generally looking after mates across Labor and Liberal-National-Country coalitions. One of the state’s growth industries is tunnel vision by police leading to miscarriages of justice and the growing numbers-quantities of public compensation payouts in the millions-of-dollars range for wrongful convictions and the like, CLA says.

WA needs a revolution in thinking, not patched-up bricks, mortar and concrete cells contained by 19th century rhetoric, barbaric bars and clanging metal doors that are unfit for purpose for kids aged 10 and adults through to their 70s and 80s.

While WA is not alone in Australia in having similar ‘justice’ problems, it is undoubtedly one of the worst examples, CLA believes. Australia needs an inquiry into ‘justice’: it has never had one, not once in 120 years involving the federal, state and territory jurisdictions in one comprehensive review of whether our system(s) work properly now, and how we can improve them for the future.

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