By Zorana Mackovic
Young inmates who are deemed suitable for community release are being kept at Banksia Hill Detention Centre due to a lack of safe accommodation, a Perth MP claims.
Greens North Metropolitan MLC Alison Xamon claims that the State Government has admitted that children are remaining inside past their release date because they do not have safe homes to go to.
“About a third of these children are also wards of the state and so should be housed through our child protection system, but this is not happening,” Ms Xamon said.
“Many of the other children have home situations which for whatever reason are not deemed suitable for them to return to.
“It is appalling that children are being left in our prisons just because they have nowhere else to live.”
Dr Lela Lipohar, a psychiatrist who has previously worked with juvenile offenders, said that children would not be sent back to their families if there was evidence of family violence, severe mental health problems and or substance and alcohol misuse.
“It is not safe for these children to go back to an environment where they are not safe,” Dr Lipohar said.
Ms Xamon told The Bounce that an urgent investment is needed for programs and services for these children. Leaving children in a juvenile detention centre was the most expensive option costing around $1000 a day.
Banksia Hill Detention Centre is yet to respond to repeated inquiries made by The Bounce.
Meanwhile, Shelter WA communication manager Stephen Hall estimated there were more than 9,000 homeless people in WA on any given night.