Hon Helen Morton MLC

Hon Helen Morton MLC

Former Minister for Mental Health; Disability Services; Child Protection

    Justice centre recommendations accepted

    17/03/2016 10:15 AM
    • Government accepts all recommendations of independent analysis
    • Analysis commends balance between safety concerns and residents' welfare 

    The State Government has accepted the five recommendations put forward by an independent analysis of the plans, programs and services at Bennett Brook Disability Justice Centre in Caversham.


    Disability Services Minister Helen Morton today tabled in State Parliament the report of the analysis by retired Supreme Court Justice, the Hon Peter Blaxell, and Professor Colleen Hayward AM of Edith Cowan University.


    The five recommendations centre on the development of Individual Development Plans for the residents, documentation of breaches of conditions and a requirement for annual reviews.


    Mrs Morton commissioned the analysis in response to community concerns after two residents scaled a perimeter fence and absconded on New Year's Eve, 2015.  Both residents were returned to the centre within days without incident.


    The Minister said in addition to the recommendations, the analysis also found the procedures in place struck a proper balance between protecting the community, staff and residents and delivering appropriate services to the centre's residents.


    Looking beyond the scope of the original inquiry, an addendum to the report also highlighted the number of people with disability who were serving sentences in prisons because they had not received legal advice to seek custody orders under the Criminal Law (Mentally Impaired Accused) Act 1996. 


    "The authors recommended the Disability Services Commission conducts an education program to make lawyers fully aware of the programs available at the centre," Mrs Morton said.


    "The Government also accepts this recommendation."


    The report 'Bennett Brook Disability Justice Centre Independent Analysis by the Hon. Peter Blaxell and Professor Colleen Hayward AM of Individual Plans, Programmes, and Services for Residents' and the Government's response is available on the commission's website


    The commission has also received reports from the Department of Corrective Services and a private consultant on how to improve perimeter security and operational procedures.  Changes are being implemented in response to the reports.  These reports contain confidential information about the design and operations of the centre, so will not be made public.


    Fact File

    • The Bennett Brook Disability Justice Centre, opened in August 2015, is WA's first declared place and provides an alternative to prison for people with intellectual disability or cognitive impairment who are found unfit to plead to criminal charges and have been deemed to be 'mentally impaired accused' because of their disability
    • The secure home-like environment of the centre helps residents to gain the necessary skills and socially appropriate behaviours to help them when they eventually return to community living; supports and services are tailored to meet individual needs
    • For more information, visit http://www.disability.wa.gov.au  

    Minister's office - 6552 6900