AMNESTY International has called for the Intensive Support Unit at Banksia Hill Detention Centre to be immediately closed pending investigation, following allegations of abuse of young people which “may amount to torture”.
The Canning Vale detention centre has been plagued with riots in the past and the unit helped stabilise the facility.
Corrective Services Minister Fran Logan’s office told Community News on Thursday he was assured solitary confinement was not used at the centre and those housed in the Harding Unit had access to psychological care, education, rehabilitation and recreation services.
Amnesty International published a statement on its website last Tuesday in which the group’s Indigenous Rights manager Tammy Solonec said what she was told at Banksia Hill by two young people was deeply disturbing.
“Being held for weeks on end in a cell as small as a car parking space, with as little as 10 minutes out of the cell each day,” she said.
“When they did leave the cell, being handcuffed. Sometimes being denied access to basic services like a shower. Being fed through a grill in the door. And despite the serious mental harm of this type of isolation, limited access to a psychologist.”
“The Don Dale detention centre’s version of the Intensive Support Unit was ordered by the Northern Territory Royal Commission to be closed and never opened again. The same needs to happen here,” Ms Solonec said.
Mr Logan told Community News the Harding Unit was a cluster of facilities at Banksia Hill that houses individuals that need intensive supervision.
The latest significant riot was in May.
“The centre was in chaos, the detainees caused millions of dollars of damage during multiple riots, and staff morale was rock bottom,” Mr Logan said.
Mr Logan said there was still more work to be done, including finding alternative accommodation options for female detainees and young boys.
Opposition Corrective Services spokesman Zak Kirkup asked for an urgent briefing from the Superintendent of the Centre and a visit to the centre, and he has been in touch with a mother of one of the detainees from regional WA to discuss the allegations.