The Western Australian community is being given a more direct say in running the State's juvenile detention centres and rehabilitating young offenders.
A community advisory board has been appointed to work with the administration of Longmore Remand, Longmore Training and the Riverbank detention centres.
Community Services Minister Eric Ripper made the announcement today while officially launching Riverbank's first public open day to mark National Aboriginal and Islander Week. The open day included Aboriginal art displays, examples of items produced by detainees, a special lunch featuring kangaroo and emu dishes, and a live broadcast by Aboriginal radio.
Mr Ripper said the board would have direct input into rehabilitation programs, visiting procedures and the design and staffing composition of detention centres.
"Detention centres will always be the last resort in the Government's comprehensive and balanced juvenile justice system, while the main focus is on early intervention, prevention and rehabilitation," Mr Ripper said.
"Community input is vital in ensuring rehabilitation for young people behind bars is as effective as possible under the circumstances.
"The aim is not to have a panel of experts, but to involve representatives from communities in which young offenders live in creating the most appropriate rehabilitation programs and environment for the detainees.
"Community input to the centres has previously been mostly on an informal basis, but the advisory board will work hand-in-hand with the superintendents of the three centres, and the Assistant-Director (Custodial Services) from the Department for Community Services."
Mr Ripper said the initiative was in line with the Government's determination, as outlined in the $180 million 'Social Advantage' package, to work in close partnership with the community in solving social problems.
The board would also give advice on:
· the development and evaluation of cultural, educational and recreational programs;
· behaviour management programs;
· policy and procedure relating to visits to the detention centres; and
· support for families of detainees.
The inaugural community advisory board members include:
· Mr Clem Riley, Co-ordinator, CDEP, Southern Suburbs Progress Association Aboriginal Corporation;
· Sister Bernadette Doyle, Principal, Culunga Catholic Aboriginal School;
· Ms Sandra Paskett, Bateman Residents' Action Group;
· Mr Steve Yarran, Chairperson, Northern Suburbs Aboriginal Police Relations Committee;
· Ms Maxine Hansen, Project Officer, South East Regional Youth Council;
· Mr John Bridge, Co-ordinator, Aboriginal Visitors' Service.
"The key to the success of detention centres and rehabilitation programs is to make them as directly relevant as possible to the young people detained. This is most likely to be achieved by involving people from their own communities, with whom they relate," Mr Ripper said.
The Minister said a vital element in reducing juvenile crime was for the community and the Government to work in close partnership.