A report by the Telethon Kids Institute showing 89% of predominantly Aboriginal children in detention in WA have severe cognitive impairment must be addressed by State and Commonwealth Governments, Australian Greens Senator Rachel Siewert said today.
“Too often kids are entering the juvenile system as a result of their undiagnosed cognitive impairment, and once these kids have contact with the system, their life prospects worsen. This will be a problem in other states as well, not just in my home state of WA.
“We know that once kids have had contact with the juvenile justice system they are more likely to end up in the adult justice system, and like we heard in the recent Human Rights Watch report, become incredibly vulnerable to systemic abuse and neglect from prison staff and fellow inmates.
“We should be working out the scale of this issue nationally. We should be assessing kids in early childhood, to ensure that kids are getting the appropriate levels of support, particularly as they enter school.
“Additionally, all kids entering the juvenile system must be assessed. Often staff think kids with cognitive impairment in the system are just being difficult, and use punishment instead of care, we need to stop this happening.
“For as long as we don’t know how many kids are in detention with a cognitive impairment, they remain vulnerable and more likely to remain in the system, with the odds stacked against them”.