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SAVE THE CHILDREN: Repeated breaches of child rights in WA youth detention must end now 

Agency calls on the McGowan Government to urgently overhaul Western Australia's juvenile justice system. 
14 November 2022

Save the Children is appalled by the footage from Western Australia’s Banksia Hill Juvenile Detention Centre aired by ABC’s Four Corners and condemns the conduct as a gross violation of children’s rights. 
 
The video shows a boy being handcuffed, forcibly held down and sat on by guards in a dangerous restraint technique known as ‘folding up’, with reports several other boys have been subjected to similar practices. 
 
The ABC footage is further evidence that children’s rights are continuing to be violated at Banksia Hill Juvenile Detention Centre, highlighting the urgent need for an overhaul of Western Australia’s youth justice system before more irreparable harm is done. 
 
Earlier this year, Save the Children called for urgent action from the McGowan Government to protect the rights of children after evidence emerged of the shocking treatment of a 15-year-old boy who was locked alone in a glass-walled cell at the facility for 79 days. Solitary confinement of children is a breach of their rights and must be ceased immediately. 
 
Amanda Hunt, Western Australia State Director for Save the Children’s 54 reasons, said:  
 
“No person, let alone a child, should be subjected to the kind of appalling abuse that has been revealed at Banksia Hill. 

“Physically restraining incarcerated children in this way shows a deeply concerning disregard for their safety and wellbeing, and a serious lack of commitment to their rehabilitation.  
 
“Australia's justice system must protect and support young people in their care – not contribute to compounding their trauma and entrenching disadvantage.”  

 
Save the Children has long called for the age of criminal responsibility to be raised from 10 to 14 years old, in line with medical and international standards, and for a greater focus on early intervention and diversionary programs. 
 
“The youth justice system in WA desperately needs to be overhauled, including through raising the minimum age of criminal responsibility to at least 14, and implementing trauma-informed treatment and community-based alternatives to detention for children and young people,” Ms Hunt said. 
 
“Detention should always be the last resort and should never involve the sort of violent treatment that we continue to hear is occurring at Banksia Hill. Intervention needs to happen long before the young people are anywhere near the justice system.” 

 
The leading children’s rights organisation is also deeply concerned about the ongoing detention of young people at Casuarina Prison, a maximum-security adult facility. The Western Australian Government must immediately commit to closing Unit 18 at Casuarina as a matter of urgency.  
 
Save the Children and 54 reasons also support calls from First Nations leaders for a Parliamentary Inquiry into youth detention in WA, including the Banksia Youth Detention Centre, and its extension into the Casuarina Prison this year. 
 
54 reasons – Save the Children’s Australian service delivery division – 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: Mala Darmadi on 0425562113 or media.team@savethechildren.org.au.

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