Excerpt from The Guardian Australia 'When a kid breaks the law there's so much more going on below the surface: We must recognise the link between mental conditions and youth crime'
"The Kimberley is an exceptionally beautiful part of the continent.
None of its natural splendour can be seen in one of the region’s courtrooms, however. The only noteworthy feature is the Western Australian coat of arms, with its black swan and kangaroo paw. Opposite the magistrate’s chair sits a wide-screen television, used in part to reach young offenders via video link.
This screen streams in young people from the state’s sole juvenile detention centre, which has the misleadingly cheerful name of Banksia Hill. Young people in the Kimberley who find themselves incarcerated are flown down to the centre on the outskirts of Perth, thousands of kilometres away from their ancestral lands.
In time, a young man is escorted into the court to be tried. He’s not so much fearful as confused as to why he is there, bewildered and unsure of himself. With guidance, he pleads guilty to his charges and, with the promise of ongoing support from my colleagues and I – his caseworkers – is released on an intensive supervision order.
Case closed, it would seem. Yet another kid who broke the law and was let off by a lenient magistrate at a time when the justice system is increasingly subject to criticism."