Class action over kids' prison
Lawyers have filed a class action against the WA Government on behalf of current and former Banksia Hill detainees.
Lawyers representing hundreds of current and former detainees of Western Australia's notorious youth detention centre filed the class-action lawsuit, alleging a wide range of mistreatment.
“It alleges effectively … physical abuse, restriction, restraint, breaches of the Disability Discrimination Act and inhumane treatment,” says Sydney-based lawyer Stewart Levitt, who is leading the case in the Federal Court.
It comes after Banksia Hill was condemned by WA Children's Court President Hylton Quail on multiple occasions due to the treatment of detained children, and the ongoing detention of a group of juveniles inside one of Perth's adult prisons.
Mr Levitt says the class action is seeking financial redress for claimants ranging from current detainees to adults who had spent time in the state's youth detention system as far back as 1997.
The case could be “potentially worth hundreds of millions of dollars because there are so many people involved”, he said.
“We've been directly instructed by about 600 [people],” he said.
“The vast majority [are] Indigenous.”
The two lead complainants are both 18 years old.
The WA Government recently announced work had begun on a new on-country rehabilitation facility for at-risk youth in Western Australia's Kimberley, as part of a $40 million package announced in May to “tackle juvenile crime in the Kimberley”.
Additionally, it has pledged an additional $63 million to improve Banksia Hill.
The next step in the class action process will be a directions hearing in the Federal Court.
The case is expected to take up to three years to complete.