Banksia Hill Detention Centre rioters moved to State’s
highest security prison, Casuarina
More than a dozen teenage prisoners — some as young as 14 — are now residing at WA’s highest security prison, after a controversial move to relocate them was completed.
On Wednesday, the state’s Department of Justice confirmed that 17 “highly disruptive young males” had been moved out of Banksia Hill Detention Centre to what is being called a “temporary youth detention facility” at the maximum security adult jail.
The standalone unit at Casuarina Prison has been specially designated as a Youth Detention Centre and to operate as an extension of Banksia Hill.
And authorities said they had no choice to make the drastic move for the safety of the inmates, other detainees and staff.
They said the inmates were responsible for “unprecedented destruction of living quarters and infrastructure, and threats and attacks on staff.”
“We have been managing emergency conditions at Banksia Hill since September last year, leading to a recent escalation in extreme behaviour and numbers of critical incidents, including detainees breaching their sleeping quarters,” Director General Dr Adam Tomison said.
“The number and severity of incidents over several months has seen an increase in lockdowns while staff respond to what has become a co-ordinated and unparalleled attack on the Centre’s infrastructure.”
After Corrective Services Minister Bill Johnston announced the move late last month, it was roundly condemned by Amnesty International, Save the Children, lawyers and the state’s Commissioner for Children and Young People.
“We should be shocked and outraged that despite United Nations member states calling on Australia to do better for our kids, they decide that putting them in a maximum security prison is the solution,” Amnesty International Australia Indigenous Rights Lead, Maggie Munn, said.
At a protest last week, the grandmother of one of the boys due to be moved said it was Banskia Hill itself “pushing the kids over the edge.”
That 15-year-old indigenous boy was earlier this year described by Children’s Court president Hylton Quail as “one of the most damaged” children he had ever seen — saying he had been subjected to “prolonged systematic dehumanisation and deprivation” at the facility.
The Department of Justice said the new temporary centre was in a separate building away from the rest of Casuarina Prison, with the young detainees accommodated there having no contact with adult prisoners.
Corrective Services Commissioner Mike Reynolds said the facilities in the newly built unit would provide greater security and safety for the management of the detainees.
“The new setting should allow our staff to have more one-on-one engagement with these young people and help address their complex needs with all the same levels of services that are available at Banksia Hill,” he said.
“Meanwhile, the remaining detainees at Banksia Hill will be able to re-engage with rehabilitative, enrichment and education programs and recreation activities, while having increased out-of-cell hours not possible during the recent emergency.”
Repairs on the damaged cells at Banskia Hill will now get underway.
The department said they would be “expedited to enable the return of detainees from the temporary centre at the earliest opportunity.”