Government’s populist law and order chickens come home to roost at Banksia: WA Greens
22 January 2013
The recent riot at Banksia Juvenile Detention Centre was a tragically inevitable result of the State Government’s deeply flawed, populist law and order policies, says WA Greens Spokesperson for Children and Young People Alison Xamon.
“There have been consistent concerns voiced about the way this Government has chosen to approach the issue of juvenile offending,” Ms Xamon said.
“Apart from a highly problematic legislative agenda which seeks to treat offending children like adults, it is also a mistake to have children on remand being kept with children who have already been convicted, some of quite serious offences. And having boys and girls in the same facility was always going to create potential problems.
“Sufficient, and appropriately funded diversionary programs that provides these children with the resources they need would be more effective in reducing re-offending. Yet we have consistently heard reports of cuts to these desperately needed programs.
“In order to promote a cynical, vote-grabbing ‘throw away the key’ policy for these children, the Barnett/Grylls Government has created a deeply flawed juvenile offender regime that has thrown out many of the underlying principles of the Young Offenders Act.
“It is no surprise to me that this populist approach has turned toxic.
“This Government has relentlessly pursued its tough on crime agenda against incontrovertible proof that this approach does not work.
“Prisons are not only very expensive but they do not work to prevent re-offending, however this does not seem to matter to a Government which is only interested in whether a policy works to gather votes.
“And now we see the chickens come home to roost as a direct result of the Barnett/Grylls Governments flawed and cynical direction.
“We now have a crisis, a desperate situation where young offenders must be kept for many months in the adult Hakea Prison, a completely inappropriate environment which is already desperately overcrowded and struggling to cope as it is.
“It should be apparent the Government cannot continue doing things in this way and they must rethink their approach to juvenile offending.
“There is plenty of evidence to show that what works is a focus on providing targeted programs to ensure at the very least that young offenders don’t become repeat offenders.
“The approach to juvenile offending should focus on ensuring that the first contact with the justice system is the last contact. It is fair to say that for a young person to get to the point of detention that clearly the system has failed them at some point. It is up to us to not continue that failure.”
Hon Alison Xamon MLC
Member for the East Metropolitan Region
Office: 62 Eighth Ave Maylands WA 6051
Postal Address: PO Box 104 Maylands WA 6931
Phone: (08) 9272 1718
Fax: (08) 9272 1719
Portfolios: Water, Urban Bushland, Mental Health, Education, Training, Industrial Relations, Employment, Occupational Health & Safety, Disabilities, Women, Children & Youth, Public Service, Community Services, Electoral Affairs, Consumer Protection, Vet Affairs, Volunteering