“A system that is broken beyond recognition”

CLANT President Marty Aust responds to the transfer of all 24 youth detainees at the Don Dale Detention Centre to police watchhouses:

The safety and wellbeing of vulnerable children as well as youth detention officers remains dangerously compromised by a system that is broken beyond recognition. Whilst some children may have committed offences during the events on Tuesday evening, the majority were placed in real danger of great harm. The Northern Territory and Commonwealth Governments have knowingly allowed this risk to continue in the face of the findings of the Royal Commission. The conditions of the current indefinite detention of children in watch houses in Darwin and Berrimah is both unsatisfactory and contrary to recognised principles and rights afforded by Northern Territory and international law. The children remain in lockdown with no privacy, no sunlight or recreational areas, and are unable to access therapeutic or rehabilitative services.  They lack ready access to legal advisers and family members. They are exposed to adult offenders and suspects as well as further volatile behaviour. This is utterly deplorable in a first world country. We call on the Government to look to moving the children to supported bail accommodation as a matter of urgency and to seek financial assistance from the Commonwealth in rolling out infrastructure and support services to create a safe and therapeutic environment in which these children can work towards education and rehabilitation and break free from the cycle of entrenched disadvantage and the criminal justice system. The time has come to fast track the response and implement all of the recommendations of the Royal Commission: the safety and lives of both children and detention centre staff are at serious risk.