NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #NTRC Children : Download Interim Report from the Royal Commission Protection and Detention of Children

” It is a stark fact that the Northern Territory has the highest rate of children and young people in detention in this country and the highest rate of engagement with child protection services, by a considerable margin

Again, as noted by the Commission, we have had over 50 reports and inquiries into issues covered by the Inquiry, dating at least back to the Royal Commission into Deaths in Custody and the Bringing Them Home inquiry. We absolutely support the Commission’s position that:

There is community concern that this Commission’s recommendations and report will, like those before it, be shelved without leading to action and change.

This must not happen.”

John Paterson CEO AMSANT and spokesperson for APO

Along with reforms to youth justice and our early childhood reforms, this Government has begun building more remote houses because we know a good home leads to a good education, good health and good community outcomes,

“We are also tackling the causes of crime and social dysfunction through a plan to combat alcohol abuse – bringing back the BDR – and investing in appropriate rehabilitation strategies

Chief Minister Michael Gunner welcomes the release of the Royal Commission’s interim report which highlights work already happening to address the cycle of crime through the Territory Labor Government’s youth justice system overhaul.

Mr Gunner said the root cause of many of the challenges highlighted in the Royal Commission’s Interim Report was disadvantage. See Full Press release below

Download or Read  NT Govt response NTRC Interim report

 ” The Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion needs to show leadership, and step away from his statement in the Senate this week that justice targets are only the state and territories’ responsibility.

It is now beyond argument. The Royal Commission interim report, the Productivity Commission report, and the work of Change the Record Coalition, all point to the need for national leadership and commitment.

The right of children and young people to receive justice and fair treatment is a national responsibility.

Minister Scullion and the Turnbull Government need to act and the Labor Opposition stands ready to work with them on this critical task.”


Download or Read Labour Response NTRC Interin Report

Download or read the interim report

The RCNT-Interim-report

APONT welcomes the Interim Report from the Royal Commission and Board of Inquiry into the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory.

The Interim Report, which has gathered evidence from a wide range of witnesses, clearly demonstrates our people face a system which, in the words of the Commission “reveals a youth detention system that is likely to leave many children and young people more damaged than when they entered.”

Critics of the Royal Commission have claimed that “we already know this” and that it has been a waste of time and money. This is not the case. The Commission has demonstrated a system which is broken, and in urgent need of radical reform. As the Commission has pointed out:

A total of 94 per cent of children and young people in detention and 89 per cent of children and young people in out-of-home care in the Northern Territory are Aboriginal. The extent of this over-representation of Aboriginal children and young people, compared with all other children and young people, including Torres Strait Islanders, compels specific consideration of their position.

While the Interim Report does not make specific recommendations, it is clear that it will seek a balance between those who are concerned about community safety and reform that will lead to better outcomes for our young people in avoiding the effects of intergenerational trauma and involvement with the legal system.

We welcome this approach. We need a greater emphasis on rehabilitation and restorative justice that will lead to safer communities for all of us.

Michael Gunner

Chief Minister of the Northern Territory

Interim Report Backs Territory Government Action

31 March 2017

Chief Minister Michael Gunner welcomes the release of the Royal Commission’s interim report which highlights work already happening to address the cycle of crime through the Territory Labor Government’s youth justice system overhaul.

Mr Gunner said the Interim Report did not put forward recommendations or findings, but identified themes directly relating to work already underway.

“My Government took immediate action upon coming to Government to overhaul the broken youth justice system and implement our child protection agenda,” Mr Gunner said.

“Our $18.2 million reform – the most comprehensive in our history directlyaligns with many of the challenges the Royal Commission has identified in its interim report.

“I have discussed the Report with the Prime Minister, and reiterated with him the challenges and issues identified in the interim report require an aligned effort between the Commonwealth and the NT Government.”

Changes already implemented by the Territory Labor Government include:

  • Passing legislation to ban spithoods and restraint chairs;
  • Funding 52 new youth diversion workers;
  • Providing $6 million to NGO’s to run diversion programs and boot camps;
  • Recruitment and training 25 new Youth Justice Officers in Darwin and Alice Springs.

“This is not a short term fix. We are rebuilding trust in Government by making a long term commitment that goes beyond election cycles, focussing on breaking the cycle of crime through early intervention and tough but fair rehabilitation and diversion programs,” Mr Gunner said.

Mr Gunner said the root cause of many of the challenges highlighted in the Royal Commission’s Interim Report was disadvantage.

He said the NT Government is addressing the cycle of disadvantage through its record $1.1 billion investment to build and improve remote houses right across the Territory.

Mr Gunner said he looked forward to receiving the final report in August.

NT youth detention system a failure, says royal commission

Commissioners Margaret White and Mick Gooda use interim report to criticise operation that focuses on punishment over rehabilitation

Juvenile detention is failing, the royal commission into the protection and detention of children in the Northern Territory has said in its interim report.

As reported in the Guardian

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Released on Friday afternoon, the report contained no specific findings or recommendations, claiming it was “too early” while hearings were ongoing, despite the significance of evidence so far.

“The commission is yet to hear evidence on many issues, including evidence from senior management and political leaders in charge of youth detention who provide a perspective that is necessary to inform the work of the commission,” it said.

However it said it could make some observations, including that the youth detention system “is likely to leave many children and young people more damaged than when they entered”.

“We have heard that the detention facilities are not fit for accommodating children and young people, and not fit for the purpose of rehabilitation. They are also unsuitable workplaces for youth justice officers and other staff,” it said.

They are harsh, bleak, and not in keeping with modern standards. They are punitive, not rehabilitative.”

The report said evidence so far pointed overwhelmingly to community safety and child wellbeing being best achieved by a “comprehensive, multifaceted approach” based on crime prevention, early intervention, diversionary measures, and community engagement.”

Children and young people who have committed serious crimes must accept responsibility for the harm done. However while in detention they must be given every chance to get their lives on track and not leave more likely to reoffend.

For the past eight months the inquiry into the protection and detention of children in the Northern Territory has been investigating the policies, conditions, and actions which contributed to a juvenile justice crisis.

“At every level we have seen that a detention system which focuses on punitive – not rehabilitative – measures fails our young people,” said Margaret White, one of the commissioners, on Friday ahead of the report’s release. “It fails those who work in those systems and it fails the people of the Northern Territory who are entitled to live in safer communities.

 “For a system to work children and young people in detention must be given every opportunity to get their lives on track and to re-enter the community less likely to reoffend.”

White said there was no quick fix and a considered approach was necessary if the commission was to effect long-term, sustainable change

Mick Gooda, the other commissioner said they had made no specific recommendations in the interim report because key witnesses – including the former minister John Elferink and former corrections commissioner Ken Middlebrook – were yet to be questioned. The commission had also focused mainly on issues in detention so far, and was yet to properly delve in the care and protection side of their terms of reference.

“We have cast the net far and wide to look at what is working and what could work in the circumstances of the Northern Territory,” he said, adding there was a particular focus on the overrepresentation of Aboriginal youth in the system.

 “In the coming months we’ll shift our focus on to the care and protection system. This is a critical part of our work and evidence before the commission shows that children and young people in out-of-home care are more likely to enter the detention system. Those systems are inextricably linked.”

The commission was initially slated to be finished by now, but in December it was granted a four-month extension.

Over a series of public hearings and site visits it has covered a broad range of issues, including the more than 50 previous investigations and reviews relating to the system, the impact of health and race issues on detention rates, the disintegrating relationships between corrections and justice agencies, and, of course, the conditions inside detention centres.

Inadequate staff training and insufficient resources were a common theme in witness testimony.

Dozens of additional allegations by detainees were also aired in closed sessions and open court, including alleged and substantiated acts of violence and intimidation, and mistreatment.

The commission faced criticism by government lawyers and commentators over its policy to accept the statements of detainees but not allow cross-examination because they were vulnerable witnesses. Instead numerous responsive statements were provided by the accused, denying and in some cases refuting the claims. Some statements by former guards were similarly discredited under cross-examination.

The Human Rights Law Centre said the royal commission’s interim report would have lessons applicable for all Australian jurisdictions. “These types of problems are not limited to the NT,” said Shahleena Musk, a senior lawyer at the centre. “Right across Australia, politicians are trying to score points by looking tough and ignoring the evidence on what actually works.”

Musk cited the Victorian government’s decision to move youths to a maximum security adult prison as an example. “We know that overly punitive and tougher responses are harmful and don’t work. They don’t help kids get back on track, which is ultimately in the interest of community safety.”

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