WA premier stands firm on juvenile detainee 'terrorism'

·2-min read
Mick Tsikas/AAP PHOTOS

The West Australian premier has doubled down on his criticism of young inmates involved in a riot at the Banksia Hill detention centre, adding he is sick of calls for inquiries into the troubled facility.

A number of detainees escaped their cells on Tuesday night, gaining access to the grounds of the Perth centre before climbing onto the roof.

The riot, the latest of a series at the centre, was brought to a close after armed officers were sent in.

Premier Mark McGowan last week described the incident as a "form of terrorism", adding that medical conditions such as fetal alcohol spectrum disorder were being used as "an excuse" for detainees' actions.

He continued that rhetoric on Sunday, saying the time for excuses was over.

"We need to actually hold people to account for what they do," Mr McGowan told reporters.

"And the juveniles need to get the message, it's not OK. It is not acceptable to engage in this sort of conduct."

Break the Cycle, which has been campaigning against the treatment of children in the WA justice system, is leading a protest outside the youth detention centre on Sunday.

The group called on the premier to take back his "insensitive" comments.

"Someone with blatant ignorance of trauma and mental health should not be able to make decisions," founder Rosa Hicks said in a statement.

"It's outrageous that the state is putting children in solitary confinement and then acting surprised when it pushes children over the edge."

Aboriginal, legal and health experts have all condemned the premier for comparing young inmates to terrorists.

A class action involving children and young adults detained at Banksia Hill has been launched, alleging mistreatment akin to torture, including long spells of solitary confinement.

But Mr McGowan denied there was any need for an inquiry into Banksia Hill, saying he was sick of inquiries and the system was improving every day.

He said children were only detained at Banksia Hill as a last resort, normally after committing serious or multiple offences.

Mr McGowan maintained it was wrong for activists to say the children should be released.

"The only reason you end up there is because of your actions," he said.

"You need to be held accountable for your actions."

The premier said the centre offered programs and pathways for detainees so they could "turn their lives around".