Centre opens amid controversy

Protesters out the front of the disability justice centre in Caversham opening. Picture: Matt Jelonek. d441716
Protesters out the front of the disability justice centre in Caversham opening. Picture: Matt Jelonek. d441716

Opened last week, the centre was designed to house up to 10 people with intellectual and cognitive disabilities charged with but not convicted of a crime.

Under the Declared Places (Mentally Impaired Accused) Act 2015, the centre is an alternative to prison for the Mentally Impaired Accused Review (MIAR) board when managing cases.

Disability Services Minister Helen Morton could not say how many people would be the first to move in or what they were charged with.

Ms Morton said that information was reserved for the MIAR board that decided on who would be placed at the facility.

�It�s important people whose disability is so severe that they are unfit to plea have the option of coming here rather than a mainstream prison among mainstream prisoners,� she said.

�The first couple of people are coming from within the prison system and people will continue to come across the prison system.

�This facility is designed for men, women and young people over the age of 16.�

Bassendean MLA Dave Kelly said it was incredible that the centre cost $8.5 million to build and will cost millions to run each year yet there were only three people anticipated to be housed there.

Chief Justice Wayne Martin said he suspected the centre would fill quickly and that, if successful in reintegrating people into the community, then there�d be no need for a second facility, initially proposed in Kiara.

�This is groundbreaking work because it does provide a new model, an Australian first, of dealing with the most vulnerable section of our community and I�m sure that other jurisdiction will be very interested in what we�re doing,� he said.

�This is a very appropriate facility that strikes the right balance between the need to ensure the community is protected on the one hand, but on the other hand, respects the human rights, dignity and provides a compassionate and humane way of dealing with people who have intersected with the justice system through no fault of their own.�

Mr Kelly said the community was still upset about the location of the centre.

�People know that the Government�s own criteria for the location was not close to schools and not in a residential area so they rightly ask why is it across the road from homes and so close to three schools (Lockridge, Eden Hill and Good Shepherd),� he said.

�For the Premier to describe the site as the perfect location for the centre just shows he is still not listening to the community.�