Vulnerable child offenders falling through the cracks

Greens spokesperson for Corrective Services Hon Alison Xamon MLC has welcomed the publication of the Telethon Kids Institute research which details the extent of neurodevelopmental disability amongst young people currently held in custody at Banksia Hill.

“While the findings paint a heartbreaking picture, they are an important step to better understanding the reasons these children are offending in the first place,” Ms Xamon said.

“It also offers an opportunity for management and staff at Banksia Hill to provide appropriate support and care for them once they are in detention.”

Ms Xamon said the fact that these young people had ended up in prison demonstrates how badly they have been failed by the system.

“It is tragic that it is only now, at the age of 13 or 14, that these young people are being diagnosed with significant neurological impairments like Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD), for example, – but raises the question, why are these disabilities not being picked up earlier?” Ms Xamon said.

“We need to be able to equip education, Health, Child Protection and justice workers with the tools they need to determine whether young people should be assessed earlier.  The community deserves this as well.”

Ms Xamon said the Telethon Institute study provides compelling evidence that these kids need a therapeutic rather than a punitive approach, particularly in order to reduce rates of recidivism.

“We need to build on this fantastic piece of research and I call on the government to provide further funding to the Telethon Kids Institute so they can now investigate how best to support these young people and disrupt the cycle of offending,” she said.