Protesters outside Premier Mark McGowan’s Rockingham electorate office on Friday voiced concerns about the treatment of juvenile detainees at Banksia Hill Detention Centre and Casuarina Prison’s Unit 18. In July 2022, 17 juvenile Banksia Hill detainees, including one aged just 14, were controversially moved to a unit in WA’s main maximum-security adult prison, Casuarina Prison, over claims of widespread damage to cells. Since then, there have been several reports of self-harm attempts, guard mistreatment and poor living conditions. The State Government is also said to be considering moving Banksia Hill inmates to adult jails once they turn 18 after a recent attack left a prison guard with a fractured skull when a rock was thrown at his head, with one of the alleged offenders being over 18. This month, Banksia Hill staff went on strike over concerns surrounding poor pay, working conditions and understaffing at facilities. Protesters called on the government to provide more support to juveniles in these facilities in an attempt to minimise the risk of reoffending, and also work with officers to achieve a safer working environment and improved pay. Outside Mr McGowan’s Rockingham electorate office, Palawa woman and Break The Cycle protest co-ordinator Angel Rohan said the human rights of prisoners and human rights of children in detention centres were being violated. “Children are being abused, experiencing corporal punishment and receiving approximately one hour of education, if they’re lucky enough to not be kept in solitary confinement for over 23 hours a day,” Ms Rohan said. Ms Rohan said the current conditions at Banksia Hill needed to urgently be addressed and more support for children and guards was also needed. “The government and local government would much prefer to put funding into mining companies, which generate more income for middle and upper class WA people, and that’s the idea of capitalism: to keep low socioeconomic (people) in the low socioeconomic area,” she said. Ms Rohan said the main issues with funding for Banksia Hill and Unit 18 came from a “broken system”. “I think that what’s happening at Banksia Hill is direct reflection of the mental health crisis in WA,” she said. She said there were very limited wellness resources and mental health support for children at Banksia Hill. “It is the government’s responsibility to care for them and give them the treatment and care they desperately need.” Another protester, Liam Cross, asked “how many times do we have to say the word ‘human rights violation’ and not have a response from our government?”. “The international human rights organisation are recognising a WA youth detention facility as a human rights violation,” he said. “You have magistrates saying that they would rather sentence young children to go to adult prisons than send them to Banksia Hill.” Mr Cross said there were children being pushed towards suicide because of their treatment at Banksia Hill and not receiving the support they desperately need. “They’re going to continually be stuck in a cycle of poverty, mental health issues and criminality,” he said. “If you look at prison systems anywhere in the world, the likelihood of reoffending, our criminal justice system is designed to not rehabilitate.” Mr Cross said if the government put more focus on rehabilitation, people would have a better chance of going back into the community and being productive members of society.