Banksia Hill opened in October 1997 replacing the Longmore and Nyandi Detention Centres. It is considered a maximum security facility and was originally designed to accommodate all young offenders, male and female, serving a sentence of detention. Such young offenders may at law be as young as 10 years of age (although rarely under 12 years) and may include young people over 18 years of age completing their sentence of detention. In October 2005, male detainees on remand, and all female detainees, were accommodated at Rangeview Remand Centre (Rangeview).
On 14 May 2009 the Minister announced a project to convert Rangeview into a Young Adult Facility and to expand Banksia Hill to accommodate all of Western Australia’s young male and female detainees, including arrestees, remandees, and those who had been sentenced. It was initially expected that the amalgamation of the two juvenile facilities would be completed by November 2011, however, significant building delays in completing capital works required at Banksia Hill meant that the amalgamation did not occur until September 2012.
The delay in completing the building project placed significant stress on detainees, staff and management, as the amalgamation was continually deferred. Numerous serious incidents also occurred on the Banksia Hill site.
It had been hoped that the amalgamation would resolve underlying and longstanding problems with the staff culture and morale at Banksia Hill. This did not occur. By the time of the amalgamation, issues associated with low morale and severe shortages of staff, as well as a breakdown in the relationship between staff and senior management had resulted in detainees being locked down for significant periods of time.
By November 2012, concerns regarding the management team’s ability to manage the situation at Banksia Hill resulted in a change and the introduction of a new management team.
This Paper examines the amalgamation process, the effect of low staff morale and staffing numbers as a causal factor in the riot, as well as the impact of the riot on staff.