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Full steam ahead for Banksia Hill class-action's fight for justice

Sarah Smit -

A lawsuit taking on the Western Australian state government for treatment of Aboriginal children at the Banksia Hill Juvenile Detention centre is set to be one of the largest of its kind.

Lead by Stewart Levitt of Levitt Robinson lawyers, the lawsuit will alleges that the West Australian Government has failed in its duty of care to Aboriginal children incarcerated at the detention centre.

State justice advocates have claimed that children who were incarcerated at Banksia Hill have come out worse off than they went in.

Around 450 people former inmates, or family of former inmates, are involved in the case from across the state; solicitor on the case Dana Levitt said it's one of the largest human rights cases she's been involved in.

"It's a very large cohort of people that have very bad and very shared experiences," she said.

Advocates Megan Krakouer and Gerry Georgatos have been travelling around Western Australia to find complainants.

Levitt said Krakouer and Georgatos have been instrumental in bringing the cohort together.

"They've been all around Western Australia speaking to families," she said.

"They've been really active in going out and seeing families in a home, and sitting down with families and getting the information we need."

"As you appreciate, these kids move around a lot. They don't have addresses or phone numbers, and they're pretty hard to pin down, so it's so important that we've got people like Megan and Jerry that have those connections, because otherwise it would be virtually impossible to coordinate."

Krakour said many plaintiffs have come forward after seeing information on the class action online or in the media.

"They feel like they went into Banksia Hill and came out worse off because of lack of psychological support, lack of education, some being slammed to the ground, some alleging some of the most horrendous and horrific treatment, and they want to be validated," she said.

"They want to be heard, and they want their voice to count."

Krakouer said the class action gives people a way to deal with the injustices they suffered while at the detention centre.

"There's it's certainly a lot of momentum, it gives a lot of people hope as well," she said.

"[They can say] hang on, you're not alone here, I also suffered this when I was a young person that Banksia Hill.

"This is bringing cohorts right across the state together."

Levitt said the team will likely file in February, after going through the Australian Human Rights Commission.

"There's a few procedural things that we have to do first, but we are well underway in terms of compiling evidence, and also our pleadings, etc," she said.

By Sarah Smit

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