For the most part, the standard of care and well-being of detainees was being properly maintained during the redevelopment of Banksia Hill and continued to offer a pro-social environment. This is an excellent achievement, but there were also a number of findings that required attention if the expanded centre is to reach its potential:
- Induction and orientation is too limited in scope and detainees are overly reliant on each other or on prior experience for information.
- The food was fatty, often not fresh and was insufficiently nutritious.
- Young people typically spend up to 14 hours per day in cells which have limited amenity and few belongings. This is exacerbated by unscheduled lockdowns mainly due to staffing issues.
- The range of items able to be purchased in the canteen and possessed by detainees is more limited than in an adult facility. Resources able to be provided by families are also unduly restricted.
- Afternoon lockdowns and unscheduled lockdowns impede detainee access to recreation, increases resentment and elevate risk through an increased propensity towards disruptive behaviours.
- Detainees complained that the visits area was often crowded, was uncomfortable and lacked privacy.
- While most youth feel safe at Banksia Hill, a few did not. There was some feeling that officers did not sufficiently supervise detainees, failed to protect some of the detainees, failed to stop fights quickly and handed out insufficient punishment to deter bullying.
- Detainees were overwhelmingly satisfied with the progress they were making in their classroom learning and believed it would help them with school or in future employment. However, they were somewhat less satisfied with the training provided at Banksia Hill.
- While some excellent brief interventions are provided, they are significantly less intensive than those provided to adult prisoners. A more intensive and sustained intervention strategy for detainees involved with substance misuse is warranted.
The parallel audit on regression was considered more broadly as part of processes relating to detainee discipline, and also triggered an investigation into the legal framework for detainee disciplinary practices. It found:
- In the period from 1 January 2009 to 30 March 2011, detainees were placed into regression in the Harding Unit at Banksia Hill on 498 occasions.
- There are anomalies between the Juvenile Custodial Rules, the Centre practices relating to confinement of a young person and the provisions of the Young Offenders Act and the Young Offenders Regulations, including in exercise, access to reading materials, monitoring and documentation.
- Despite most incidents being dealt with within their accommodation unit, over half were initially confined in a multi-purpose cell in Harding unit. This implies significant overuse of confinement.
- An analysis of responses to assaults committed by detainees indicates most were dealt with through unit level consequences rather than detention centre charges or other more serious consequences. This raises the question whether a sufficient robust response was made to incidents of violence.
- Inadequate documentation is kept on detainees placed in a regression regime, as to cell placements, time out of cell, placement reasons and other information to ensure duty of care, demonstrate compliance with legal requirements and contribute to continuous learning and improvement.
- Regression is generally triggered by incidents which could result in detention offence charges. Whilst it may sometimes be appropriate to use regression in this way, the data suggest that its use in lieu of formal charges may be excessive, and contrary to the original intent of the Young Offenders Act.
- The stated purpose of regression is to improve behaviour through a targeted and individualised regime. However a simple proforma regime was applied in almost every case, often with comparatively little engagement with psychologists, Aboriginal Welfare Officers or other support staff.
- Custodial officers rostered to the regression unit are routinely cross-deployed to other tasks which caused detainees to be locked into their cells for extended periods, sometimes without full exercise entitlements, and preventing staff giving detainees the individual attention that is intended in their regimes.