Thursday 10 February, 2022

STATEMENT: Quotes attributable to Rikki Hendon, Branch Secretary of the CPSU/CSA

Banksia Hill Detention Centre unsafe for staff and young people

CPSU/CSA Branch Secretary Rikki Hendon says that staffing shortages at Banksia Hill Detention Centre are the worst they have been in more than a decade, and it is only a matter of time before a catastrophe occurs. 

Union members have been alerting the Department of Justice to chronic understaffing since June last year, but with more than 120 detainees currently in the centre the situation continues to deteriorate.

“The centre requires at least 65 staff to run a shift safely. However, last weekend there were only 26 staff. The current situation is not safe for staff, and it is not safe for the young people at the centre,” Ms Hendon says. 

“Staffing shortages have a direct and dramatic impact on detainees. We see a significant increase in mental health issues, violent incidents, and damage to cells when the centre is not adequately staffed. This puts everyone in the centre at risk. 

“Where there are too few staff to provide safe supervision, detainees have limited outdoor time and no school or educational programs. Under these conditions, there can be little or no rehabilitation.

“Our members are telling us that short term solutions, such as overtime, are not enough to encourage staff to put their safety at risk and take up extra work to fill the shortages. They are exhausted, burnt-out and feel unsafe at work.

“We need to see an immediate and significant increase in staffing levels so that staff and detainees at Banksia Hill are both physically and mentally safe from harm.

“Our members are calling on the Department to honour their commitment to ‘no staff left alone’ and a 2:8 staff to detainee ratio, as a minimum. Without addressing these basic measures, conditions at Banksia Hill will continue to deteriorate.”