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Save the Children condemns WA Government's plan to move children to an adult prison

The state’s youth justice system is failing at-risk children and needs urgent reform.
14 July 2022

Save the Children condemns the Western Australian Government’s plan to move up to 20 children – some as young as 14 – from the Banksia Hill juvenile detention centre to a maximum-security adult prison.   
 
The government says the children are responsible for damaging facilities at Banksia Hill and that removing them will allow other detainees to return to programs that had been affected by the disruptions.  
  
This only serves to highlight the dehumanising conditions these children have experienced, including being locked down for up to 23 hours a day due to staff shortages and held in solitary confinement for extended periods.   
 
Save the Children State Director for Western Australia and the Northern Territory, Noelene Swanson, called on the WA Government to immediately reverse its decision to send these children to an adult prison. 
 
“The WA Government’s plan is completely unacceptable and a terrible breach of children’s rights.  
 
“Children should not be imprisoned full stop, and especially not in facilities designed for adults. 
 
“This plan clearly demonstrates the failure of the state’s youth justice system, which is destroying the lives of vulnerable children and threatens to condemn them to a cycle of disadvantage. 
 
“Sending these children to an adult prison would only expose them to further trauma, when what they need is specialist support. 
 
“Western Australia must urgently put an end to policies that disproportionately harm children already being let down by the system, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.” 

 
Save the Children calls on the Western Australian government to reform its youth justice system to bring it into line with human rights requirements, including raising the age of criminal responsibility from 10 to at least 14 years old. It should also develop and implement trauma-informed treatment and invest in community-based alternatives to detention for children and young people. 
 
Save the Children has long supported raising the age of criminal responsibility from 10 to 14 years old, in line with medical and international standards, and for solitary confinement to be eradicated from youth justice systems across the country.  
 
The leading child rights agency runs preventive, early intervention and diversionary initiatives in every state in Australia, including as part of a significant community-led initiative in Western Australia supported by the Paul Ramsay Foundation. 
 
ENDS 
 
MEDIA CONTACT: Joshua Mcdonald on 0478 010 972 or media.team@savethechildren.org.au  

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