The ABC Four Corners program “Locking up kids” was confronting and upsetting. Nobody watching that program could come away thinking that the current systems are delivering the best outcomes for young people or the community.
The needs of the young people housed in the Banksia Hill Detention Centre are admittedly challenging, but this comes from complex trauma, mental health and social issues and not because they are inherently bad.
What is needed is a new system that addresses all aspects of a young person’s life and supports these vulnerable young people and prevents them from entering the justice system in the first place. And for those children and young people that do come into the youth justice system, we need to provide culturally appropriate place based, intensive, ongoing wrap-around support, through all stages of their contact with the justice system.
It’s worth noting that the Young Offenders Act, the act under which children are placed in correctional facilities, was last updated in 1994. In 1994 same sex couples could not get married and in some states, some consensual acts of sex between consenting adults were still criminalised. How have we come so far as a society in our support and understanding for our diverse multicultural and LGBTQIA+ communities, yet we have literally left these children behind, stuck in 1994?
We need programmatic, policy and public awareness/community solutions. HOPE will continue to be part of the solution and to be part of the growing voices drive change for young people. We are committed to working with all communities and stakeholders to ensure better outcomes and futures for the young people in our State.
If not, and if you would like to watch it, it can be viewed here https://www.abc.net.au/news/programs/4corners