Litany of failures at Unit 18 leaves Minister Papalia condemned

Nov 10, 2023 | Peter Collier MLC, State News

A 16-year-old boy lost his life because the Cook Labor Government is more interested in demonising young offenders than running a safe and appropriate juvenile detention centre.

Shadow Corrective Services Minister Peter Collier said the interim report of the investigation into the death of Cleveland Dodd in the notorious Unit 18 at Casuarina Prison was a damning indictment on Premier Roger Cook who had referred to the unit as “a necessary evil”.

“This Government and Minister Papalia were warned time and again that a tragedy of this nature was in the making and rather than ensure measures were in place to make sure it didn’t happen, they allowed a system to operate that was flawed in almost every possible way,” Mr Collier said.

“It’s hard to imagine what more could have gone wrong at Unit 18 in the lead up to Cleveland’s death.

“Guards watching movies, officers not carrying radios, officers not wearing cameras, the cell camera covered with toilet paper, poor record keeping, limited access to cell keys and an officer potentially asleep – it’s an inexplicable litany of failures.”

Mr Collier said that even in the face of the tragedy of Cleveland’s death Minister Papalia had engaged in a cheap stunt to demonise the young offenders in Unit 18 by bringing into Parliament crude weapons allegedly made by the inmates.

“An effective minister would instead be petitioning his government to allocate the funds to build the critical infrastructure that’s needed to safely contain these complex young offenders,” he said.

Mr Collier said his sympathy was with the family of Cleveland Dodd.

“This report, which quite clearly says Cleveland did not need to die, must be devastating reading for Cleveland’s parents,” Mr Collier said.