Western Australian authorities have defended their running of Perth’s Banksia Hill juvenile detention centre after allegations of solitary confinement and poor treatment of detainees.
Two teenagers have spent more than 250 days isolated in the centre’s intensive support unit (ISU), and three have allegedly been subjected to weeks-long stretches of solitary confinement.
The mother of one boy told Guardian Australia her son was not coping and Banksia Hill did not tell her he’d been self-harming.
Amnesty International warned the centre may be in breach of international law, and said it had written twice to WA corrections minister, Fran Logan, since mid December, with no response.
Logan told Guardian Australia he would respond “in coming days”, but he had been assured solitary confinement wasn’t used at Banksia Hill.
Logan said other issues raised by the inspector of custodial services more than 18 months ago were “being addressed”. The damning findings reflected the previous management, he said which affected rehabilitation and education programs.
“The centre has undergone a significant transformation since the 2016 inspection,” he said.
The Department of Corrections “strongly rejected” the allegations but said they were assessing the claims.
The opposition spokesman, Zak Kirkup, said he had requested a visit to the centre after talking to a detainee’s mother.
“The officers at Banksia Hill do a good job in tough circumstances, but it’s important there is good oversight and management of our prisons to ensure our community has confidence in what is happening,” he said.
Toni Walkington, the Community and Public Sector Union/Civil Service Association of WA branch secretary, rejected the allegations, saying the ISU had provided stability, with no serious assaults or incidents since the May disturbances.
The corrective services commissioner, Tony Hassall, also denied the torture allegation but said there would be an examination. He said the unit had two teachers, a psychologist and recreation officers, and detainees had access to facilities such as televisions and family visits.
The WA Greens spokeswoman for corrective services, Alison Xamon, supported calls for an independent investigation, and for Banksia Hill’s management to be moved away from corrections to the Department of Communities.
Xamon said evidence was clear that isolation was cruel and ineffective, and undermined rehabilitation.