Adults and children in detention centre a dangerous mix

What is the Barnett Government going to do about the high number of adults being housed at the Banksia Hill Detention Centre for juveniles?

There are 22 detainees from a muster of around 160 who are already 18 years of age or older with another 24 expected to turn 18 by the end of the year.

Up to six detainees have returned from prison in the last 12 months with four of them previously assaulting staff.

By the time some of them are released from Western Australia’s only juvenile detention centre they will be up to 20 years of age.

CPSU/CSA branch secretary Toni Walkington said the growing number of adult detainees mingling with young children in Banksia Hill was creating a pressure-cooker situation.

"Our members don’t believe young men should be in the general population with children as young as 11 years of age," Ms Walkington said.

There is no provision in the Young Offenders Act for the detainees to be transferred to an adult prison when they turn 18.

"Staff are also concerned that there are no programs for these older detainees and that Banksia Hill was not designed to cater for them."

Recently Corrective Services has talked about establishing a separate section in the Urquhart unit inside Banksia Hill but options such as using prison officers have been thwarted by the Barnett Government’s cap on staffing.

We understand the department will call for expressions of interest from youth custodial officers to fill the positions with numbers to be drawn from the current staff allocation and no additional staff employed. Ms Walkington said members were looking for a timely solution that included specialised programs, keeping the adults separated from the younger population and supervised by appropriately-trained and experienced staff.

"We were originally told the separate unit might be established in September but that has been delayed, so we call on the department to work with the unions to develop a workable plan with a dedicated timeframe."

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