A severely autistic girl has been held in solitary confinement in a Western Australian juvenile detention center for more than seven months, according to documents filed with the Australian Federal Court.
- Allegations are part of a class action lawsuit against the Western Australian government
- The case involved hundreds of former prison detainees.
- The lawsuit is expected to take up to three years
The allegation is part of a class action lawsuit involving more than 500 children and adolescents held at Western Australia’s infamous Banksia Hill Detention Center.
In an affidavit filed in federal court last year, attorney Stewart Levitt said the now 18-year-old woman was locked up in a “queue unit” between May 2018 and March 2020. Stated.
The longest stretch she spent there was from September 10, 2018 to April 29, 2019, when she was around 13 years old.
In an affidavit, Mr. Levitt alleges that the girl was regularly held in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day while held there.
She was only allowed out for one hour each day in a small room or concrete area of 3 x 4 meters surrounded by a cyclone fence.
When the girl was taken out of her cell to meet her parents, her legs were said to be shackled and her hands handcuffed.
The affidavit also alleges that the girl was denied visits by her parents as punishment and was forced to “earn” for bedding.
“She felt she was being treated like a dog and responded to this by sleeping on a flood of concrete and pretending to be a dog,” the affidavit reads.
“The mattress was stained with saliva and excrement, so she slept on the bare floor instead of the mattress.”
She is said to have been forced to spend long periods of time in solitary confinement as she became responsive to disciplinary policies due to her Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
They also alleged that they were subjected to “use of force” by the police for refusing to change into the menstrual-stained underwear and uniforms of other detainees.
According to the affidavit, “She could not bear to wear underwear or jackets with visible menstrual stains from the use of other detainees.
“She was stripped frequently and monitored by police while she was in the shower.
“She found these experiences painful and humiliating.”
The documents also allege she was held down by multiple police officers and smashed her head against a wall.
“Often, officers used restraints such as handcuffs, shackles and a spit hood on her,” it said.
“She found the use of force and imposition of restraint to be very traumatic to her, often responding to these incidents with escalating disobedience and self-harm.”
It is also alleged that the girl was held in solitary confinement for so long that she had little access to education and adequate treatment support for her ASD.
It is claimed that prolonged confinement, naked searches, and the use of force had a “combined effect” on her disability.
Another main applicant, a young man with an intellectual disability, was also said to have been subjected to excessive violence and denied family visits.
Affidavits allege that he was held in solitary confinement at one point for ten days at a time.
It also alleges that he was subjected to a controversial restraint practice known as “folding”.
In this exercise, the child’s legs are bent over the buttocks and then pushed down.
After airing footage of the practice being applied to detainees at ABC’s Four Corners, the Justice Department announced last month that it would be phased out.
The affidavit alleges that he was ridiculed by staff for his intellectual and mental health problems and was denied the opportunity to receive an education while in solitary confinement.
Class-action lawsuits allege that children in detention facilities are being discriminated against, illegally imprisoned, detained, assaulted, and assaulted.
The state claims that it violated its duty of care to the children within Banksia Hill.
Following mounting criticism of the facility, the Western Australian government recently announced it would build a second juvenile justice facility in Western Australia’s Kimberley region.
It also announced a $63 million investment to improve and strengthen security in accommodation, education and training areas used by “high-risk and difficult” detainees.
A new Cultural Support and Enrichment Service, run by an Aboriginal-controlled organization, will also be funded.
An additional $22 million will be used to hire staff and $10 million to expand multidisciplinary mental health services.
The class action lawsuit is expected to take two to three years.