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Aboriginal Children Held In Detention In WA Despite Bail Being Granted

Aboriginal Children Held In Detention In WA Despite Bail Being Granted

Eight children since June 2021 have been held in WA despite bail being granted as a government department didn't know where to house them.

Hannah Blackiston

Hannah Blackiston

Aboriginal children in Western Australia are being held in detention despite being granted bail because authorities don't know where to house them.

According to the Aboriginal Legal Service, eight children have been kept in detention after being granted bail because child protection services failed to find suitable accommodation for them.

In an exclusive from The Guardian, a letter from the service says it has 'grave concerns' over the system failure.

The letter was sent to WA's minister for children, Simone McGurk, the attorney general and the Department of Communities following the eight children's detention, which began in June 2019.

The incidents occurred in the Banksia Hill youth detention centre with cases including a 14-year-old boy who was held for three weeks despite being granted bail at his first appearance and having only one charge on his criminal record.

In that case, his bail undertaking was not signed, which meant he could not be released.

Children cannot be released on bail unless an adult accepts responsibility for them holding to the conditions of their bail.

This is usually done by a parent or guardian, but if they are in the care of the state a government department must sign the undertaking.

The service said the department's decision not to sign the undertaking which breaches the state's obligations under the Children and Community Services Act.

A response has not been received since the letter was sent on December 13.

A spokesperson for the Department of Communities said there is sometimes a delay between bail being granted and a child being released due to the time it takes to arrange appropriate housing and transport.

Banksia Hill Detention Centre was the site of protests earlier this month as they called for an end to child imprisonment.

Ramon Vida, who was detained at Banksia Hill twice at age 16 and 17, told the National Indigenous Times that the centre wasn't a safe environment for children.

"They get mistreated, they get locked down. I saw fights. It was pretty violent in there... Too many lock downs, not much activities. The only help they gave us was the school they built," he said.

"It's not a safe environment. When I went in, they strip searched me, but I had already been strip searched at the police station."

His brother Jayden Vida told the publication children weren't treated as children in the centre, while Phoebe Mead said she worried about the mental health of her nephew and cousin who are currently being held in the facility.

A report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare earlier this month found half of the 819 children in detention per night on average over the June quarter were Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander.

72 per cent of the children held on an average night over that time were unsentenced.

Featured Image Credit: Daniel Holking / Alamy Stock Photo

Topics: News, Australia