Wednesday, 17 May 2023
The McGowan Government announcement today that amendments to the Young Offenders Act 1994 (Act) would be introduced into Parliament has been made without any consultation with the Law Society or key advocates for a change in approach to the conditions at Banksia Hill.
The rush to introduce amendments shows no respect for the current law or process that already exists. The current Act provides a fair and expeditious process to transfer an 18-year-old detainee to an adult prison. The new law will mean there is no judicial oversight by the Children’s Court of Western Australia.
In the last five financial years there have only been four applications for the transfer of detainees at Banksia Hill to an adult prison and all were granted:
– one in 2019/20
– two in 2020/21
– one in 2021/22
Having regard to all the problems at Banksia Hill in the last 12 months not one application has been made to the Children’s Court by the Chief Executive Officer of the Department of Corrective Services. Why is that?
Law Society President, Ante Golem said, “It is disappointing that the McGowan Government has moved to make these amendments today, which appear to be in isolation of the comprehensive review of young offender laws to ensure they can provide the best outcomes for young people involved in the justice system and the community announced by Minister Johnston in 2022.
“These amendments, if passed, will enable bureaucrats to bypass the courts and there will be no scrutiny of the reasons they are using for transferring young people to an incarceration facility for adults.
“Independent judicial review of this type of activity by any government employee or Minister must not be jeopardized.”
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The Law Society of Western Australia is the peak professional association for lawyers in the State. The Society is a not-for-profit association dedicated to the representation of its more than 4,600 members. The Society enhances the legal profession through its position as a respected leader and contributor on law reform, access to justice and the rule of law. The Society is widely acknowledged by the legal profession, government and the community as the voice of the legal profession in Western Australia.