26 September 2023

Banksia Hill under way after issues settle

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The Department of Justice has welcomed the latest inspection of the Banksia Hill Detention Centre and Unit 18, acknowledging the issues raised and highlighting that most recommendations in the report are already under way.

The Report by the Office of the Inspector of Custodial Services (OICS) has been tabled in Parliament. It relates to the OICS’s visit to Banksia Hill Detention Centre and Unit 18 in February, which occurred before last month’s major disturbance.

In a statement, the Department said that despite the significant impact of the incident at Banksia Hill, recommendations in the report continued to be actioned to improve staffing levels, safety and the care of young people.

It said it supported eight out of 10 recommendations made in the report, with work to address behaviour management, Aboriginal staffing, detention centre charges, ‘safe exits’ for staff, rostering and vocational training well progressed.

“Efforts to recruit and retain staff also continue. At least four additional Youth Custodial Officer (YCO) training programs are expected to be held this year, providing up to an additional 80 YCOs for Banksia Hill,” the Department said.

“This is in addition to the 37 new YCOs who commenced work in late May after completing the most recent double training course.”

It said positions in the new 13-person Aboriginal Services Unit were now mostly filled, with recruitment for the Manager of Aboriginal Services role in its final stages.

A Superintendent had also been appointed to oversee the management of youth detainees in Unit 18.

The report highlighted the intensive support offered at Unit 18, noting the “embedded involvement of health staff, psychologists, program officers, teachers and external service providers should be the norm for all young people in detention”.

Director General of the Department, Adam Tomison said the challenges associated with managing such a cohort were well documented and actions were already being taken to address the report’s recommendations.

“There is a substantial amount of work still to do, but we are confident the $90 million-plus investment in infrastructure, staff, services and a new Crisis Care Unit will address many of these difficult issues,” Dr Tomison said.

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