Report further proof of need for complete overhaul of WA youth justice system

Greens spokesperson for Corrective Services Hon Alison Xamon MLC has today called on the Government to urgently overhaul the State’s youth justice system, following the release of a damning report from the Productivity Commission which shows WA has the worst rate of youth re-offending in the country.

Ms Xamon said the report released this week, which showed 54.8% of young of 10 to 16-year-olds were returned to sentenced supervision, was appalling but not surprising.

“The report shows that while WA has the highest rate of youth re-offending in the country, the Government is not doing enough to divert young people away from the justice system,” she said.  

“The report’s findings reflect the Auditor General’s report released in November 2017, which found the rate of young people with cautions receiving advice about and attending diversion services was alarmingly low.

“It is clear the Government is failing to address the underlying reasons young people offend, including poverty, disadvantage, FASD and challenging home environments.” 

Ms Xamon said the Productivity Commission report noted that WA had failed to provide some key data.

She said that data collection and reporting appeared to be an ongoing issue at the Department of Corrective Services. “For a Government that talks about the importance of transparency, this is just not good enough, Ms Xamon said.

“The Government has failed to provide data on incidents of self-harm or attempted suicide in Banksia Hill Detention Centre, which is very worrying, particularly given that self-harm among these young people is a concern recently raise by the Office of the Inspector of Custodial Services” Ms Xamon said.

Ms Xamon said despite the Government indicating before the election that it intended to undertake a range of much-needed reforms to youth justice, nothing has happened.

She said the Government, worryingly, seemed to be committed to carving up youth justice, with community youth justice going to the Department of Communities, and detention staying with Corrective Services.

“Evidence demonstrates that this is a bad idea,” Ms Xamon said. “Children and young people have different needs to adults, and successfully rehabilitating children requires involvement of their family and community.

“The Government should be urgently acting to improve outcomes by ensuring young people receive consistent and appropriate support from the Department of Communities to address their offending behaviour, whether they are sentenced to detention or community supervision.”