The suite of behaviour management options available to staff at Banksia is primarily dependent on accommodation. Privileges are linked to accommodation and the ability to disperse individuals relies on having adequate dispersal options.
For a hierarchical accommodation model of progression and regression to be effective it requires capacity for individuals to be moved around the centre. When there is limited capacity detainees may be punished or rewarded based on available space rather than merit. For example, a detainee achieving or exceeding expectations may reside in a unit’s ‘A’ wing. After some repeated poor behaviours a decision is made to move that detainee to ‘B’ or ‘C’ wing. If those wings are fully populated, another detainee will need to be progressed (perhaps earlier than warranted) to accommodate the regression of the A wing detainee. Movement becomes even more problematic in a unit with double bunking.
The number of detainees in detention has been steadily growing since 2009. During 2009 numbers reached three figures on relatively few occasions and on average the population was closer to 90. During 2010, numbers quite frequently exceeded 110, rarely dropped below 100 and averaged about 95. By 2011, numbers were rarely under 110 and quite frequently exceeded 120, averaging around 115. Following the closure of Rangeview, this number at times has been around 200.
The increasing number of detainees is placing pressure on capacity. This is not a simple equation of ‘beds vs heads’ as space is needed within units to enable a hierarchical accommodation to work. Nowhere is this more apparent than where detainees are aiming to achieve self-care. As stated previously, there are now only four self-care places for 160 detainees. As a result most detainees will not attain self-care. Knowing that it is unlikely that a detainee will ever achieve self-care removes this as an incentive for many detainees and in some cases even turns into a disincentive if caution is not taken in communicating the reality of achieving self-care.
While individual management is generally not linked to accommodation, management plans still rely on adequate resources. Some detainee behaviours require more intensive supervision by staff and occasionally this demands a one-to-one ratio. If this additional staffing has not been rostered a resulting lockdown of other detainees may occur. One staff member described the difficulties in balancing the rights and needs of one individual detainee against those of the group, particularly when the individual is being managed at the lower end of the hierarchical model. The staff member noted “we have the tactics to manage the detainee but not the resources.” For Banksia Hill to effectively manage detainees in this model, sufficient staffing and physical space must be allocated.
Finally, the impact of unscheduled lockdowns can change the nature of the incentive and disincentive approach to managing behaviour. Whereas previously the loss of privileges was proportional punishment for poor behaviour, the loss of a TV and therefore a means to alleviate boredom during increased confinement to a cell could be seen as a double punishment and no longer proportional.
Similarly, it is hardly a disincentive to a detainee to be confined to their cell within a living unit as a punishment when this is occurring on a daily basis for reasons beyond the detainee’s control. By its nature, a disincentive should serve as a deterrent. However, it can only serve this purpose when the consequence is a possibility not a reality.
One of the reasons Harding Unit, which is located at the base of the accommodation model, is undesirable is because of the confinement associated with being in this unit. However, when detainees are confined in whatever accommodation they are in, unintended consequences surface. For example, Harding is the only unit with air conditioning. During the Inquiry, one detainee advised that he would ascend the roof to gain a sense of freedom. He noted that it was cooler on the roof and in Harding because of the air-conditioning. Consequently, removal to Harding was not a consequence to avoid. The detainee noted that boys who get punished get better air-conditioning in addition to quicker access to ‘the boss’ which doesn’t happen when you are being good.