Human rights campaigners will hold protests every week in 2022 calling for reforms to the juvenile justice system in Western Australia.
At a protest this morning at the Corrective Services and Adult Community Corrections office, David Malcolm Justice Centre, in Perth, organisers announced they would run a “rolling campaign” calling to push for changes to the system.
Mervyn Eades, CEO of the Ngalla Maya Aboriginal Corporation, told National Indigenous Times that “the message today is take your hands off our children”.
“They are our babies and they should be treated right, no matter their crimes,” he said.
“We talk about rehabilitation, but there is physical, mental and psychological abuse happening. They are slamming them on their heads, they are putting them under long lockdowns – it has got to stop.”
Mr Eades said the children in Banksia Hill Detention Centre “are already the most disadvantaged and traumatised children from the beginning”.
“They need healing, they don’t need abuse and mistreatment at the hands of correctional facilities,” he said.
“We are here to be the voice for them. Their voices may be silenced, but our voices will call out for reform and for justice for all children.”
The demonstration this morning follows one held outside the office of Corrections Minister Bill Johnson on December 8 and will be followed up by a vigil outside Banksia Hill on 22 December.
Gerry Georgatos from the National Suicide Prevention & Trauma Recovery Project said the “rolling campaign” was calling for reforms but also to let those detained in Banksia Hill no that they were not forgotten.
“There are a lot of kids in ISU (Intensive Support Unit in isolation) at the moment, they are in lockdown, many are 13, 14 years old. They get half an hour respite a day and they don’t get utensils with their meals,” he said.
“The rolling campaign is to validate them, which reduces the risk of self-harm, and it is to compel change. We have a government with control of both houses of parliament, they could bring in reforms with minimal delay if they so choose.”
Mr Georgatos and Megan Krakouer are spearheading a prospective class action on behalf of Banksia Hill detainees and former detainees.
He said a great deal of evidence has “already been provided by Amnesty International, and by the Office of the Inspector of Custodial Services”.
“This government, when it was in opposition, particularly in 2012, were calling for reforms and changes in the lead up to the riots of 2013. Now they are in government, they are not doing it themselves.
“We want to compel changes long before we get to court. We don’t want those kids to have to wait. We will do 52 protests next year.”
By Giovanni Torre