Protesters demand Labor close Banksia Hill’s notorious Unit 18

April 4, 2024
Protesters outside the David Malcolm Justice Centre. Photo: Alex Salmon

More than 200 people rallied on April 2 to demand Labor close the notorious Unit 18 of Western Australia’s Banksia Hill Detention Centre.

The protest was organised by family and supporters of 16-year-old First Nations teenager Cleveland Dodd, who died in the controversial Unit 18 youth detention wing last year.

His is the first recorded death of a Black teenager in a WA prison.

The rally marched through the CBD to the David Malcolm Justice Centre the day before the coronial Inquest into Dodd’s death began.

The inquest was told on April 3 that Cleveland threatened to kill himself on eight occasions between 8pm and 1.35am on the night he was found in the cell.

The teenager was being held in an adult section of the Casuarina maximum security adult prison, despite not being convicted of any crime. Unit 18 was supposed to be a temporary solution for some Banksia Hill Detention Centre inmates, after protests erupted in response to sustained abuse and poor conditions.

The ABC reported that Cleveland was distressed and told custodial officers through the intercom that he did not have water. An electrical outage — which no one was informed about — prompted a "severe" response among detainees.

At 1.50am on October 12, the detainee in the cell next to Cleveland called a youth custodial officer through his intercom, saying, “Cleveland’s hanging in his cell”.

While the WA government was forced to shut down some sections of the detention centre, corrective services minister Paul Papalia later announced Unit 18 would remain open indefinitely.

The inquest into Dodd's death continues next week, with more hearings scheduled for later this year.


Photo: Alex Salmon


Photo: Alex Salmon

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