Dylan Voller’s mistreatment started in Alice Springs

p2343 Four CornersBy KIERAN FINNANE

 

The mistreatment of Dylan Voller – the boy who has become a young man inside the NT’s youth justice system and whose systemic abuse was aired on the ABC’s Four Corners program last night – began in Central Australia, when he was first taken into custody at Arrernte House in 2008.

 

He is pictured in the Four Corners documentary strapped into a “mechanical restraint chair”.

 

Youth Justice Program Coordinator for Central Australian Aboriginal Legal Aid Services, Antoinette Carroll, describes dealing with his situation then as the most distressing time in her career and she says it was and has been ever since the subject of many complaints. She says the investigation into Dylan’s case by then Children’s Commissioner Howard Bath looked at both his experience in detention and his “care and protection ” issues, as he was at the time in the care of the Minister.

 

She welcomes a Royal Commission, announced this morning by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, and hopes that its terms of reference will be very broad as “Don Dale [Juvenile Detention Centre] is only one issue”.

 

She says young people in the care of the Minister make up a  large proportion of the juvenile justice population and the therapeutic support for them is “zero”. Many of them  are damaged by early childhood trauma, and / or suffer from  cognitive disabilities and undiagnosed foetal alcohol spectrum disorder.

 

“If you don’t provide therapeutic support they won’t change. They need support, their families need support.”

 

She says a raft of strong recommendations about responding to the needs of Dylan Voller have  been made by professionals in contact with him, but have been ignored by the government: “We were told the costs were too high.”

p2343 Four Corners protest 1

But look at the costs of keeping him in detention, where he still is today, urges Ms Carroll. The “tough on crime ” approach of the Giles government is a gross failure: “Ask the people who continuously have their houses broken into how that’s working for them.”

 

There is no collaboration between the detention system and community stakeholders, including the young people’s extended families, says Ms Carroll: “The problem is bigger than what we witnessed last night.”

 

Some young people from Central Australia are sent to Don Dale but others are held  in the juvenile detention facility in Alice Springs. “It’s very ad hoc.” Most girls get sent to Don Dale because there is no facility for girls in Alice, yet at present a girl is being held there, the sole girl with 12 boys.

 

Ms Carroll  says the Alice facility  has been described by Corrections Minister John Elferink himself as “a shithole”. It is in breach of many human rights standards and should be replaced immediately by a purpose-built facility. However, while the kind of abuse witnessed on Four Corners last night has not taken place there – “nothing like it” – she says there is no effective rehabilitation taking place.

 

This is despite the fact that sending a young person to detention is supposed to be a measure of last resort, and used to focus on their rehabilitation and return to the community.

 

She says there have been some excellent youth justice officers working at the Alice Springs facility but they haven’t lasted, as the culture does not support them.

Ms Carroll sits on the youth detention advisory committee but in a  recent meeting with Corrections Commissioner Mark Payne was told that there is “zero money – don’t even ask” in relation to the list of demands for improvements. The critical issue is lack of space – for teaching, for contact with families, for interviews between professionals and the detainees – and its collocation with the adult facility: “There is extraordinary contact between the young people and the adult prison population.”

 

She says while some issues in the justice and corrections system  arose under the previous government there has been “an alarming decrease in cooperation with the [youth] sector basically ever since Mr Elferink became minister.” And the system he has presided over “has been supported by p2343 Four Corners protest 2bureaucrats, staffers, policy advisors and his colleagues in parliament”.

 

The situation is appalling. People have not spoken out for fear of losing their jobs and because it is a small community, says Ms Carroll, but now “the lid is off and it should be off – we have been constrained for too long.”

 

ADDITIONAL PHOTOS: Protest in the Mall at lunchtime today.

 

 

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31 Comments (starting with the most recent)

NB: If you want to reply to a previous comment, start your comment with this notation: @n where n is the number of the comment you want to reply to.
  1. Fred the Philistine
    Posted July 31, 2016 at 7:10 pm

    @ Jim: These peole need to be rehabilitated, so that is what everyone is saying.
    Rehabilitation in the way so that they can have a second chance in life and be trained so that they can get a job when they are released.
    So what is your problem? Don’t you want these people to be rehabilitated?
    As I am nearing my 70th year, I would love a publice service job.
    Neither Labor nor Liberal are worth voting for I my opinion.

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  2. Fred the Philistine
    Posted July 31, 2016 at 6:49 pm

    @ Evelyn and Shelly. I am quite sure that if an animal in their care play up or gives them hard time, they do tranquillise them.
    Like I keep saying, we only saw a short pice of film, when should actually see the whole story on both sides.

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  3. Jim
    Posted July 30, 2016 at 5:43 pm

    Hey Fred: So I guess you work or worked in the public service to state that private businesses should lose work just to keep prisoners employed. Vote for Labor too, do you?

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  4. Fred the Philistine
    Posted July 30, 2016 at 2:29 pm

    @ Evelyn: I have not read so much BS. These childeren have done major offences, like bashing people.
    I don’t think that its a cry for help. The problem with these children is that they have not been taught any discipline.
    Parents and grandparents are also to be held rresponsible for their actions.
    Please don’t blame it on their cultural or breakdowns. Everyone has a culture, and breakdowns within them, but you do not see these children behave in the manner which is unacceptable.
    This whole saga has been an over-reaction. Let’s hear what the other side have to put up with before we make assumptions. If you look carefully, the film has also been dubed. Typical ABC.

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  5. Shelly
    Posted July 30, 2016 at 8:34 am

    I agree with the previous reference to the strength of the RSPCA to influence change. Their motivation was in response to cruelty. We know what the PM response was to that change.
    I think a Royal Commission falls too short of action, and drifts into the realm of whom to blame. Everyone shares the blame, and if the politicians won’t take the lead in making a stand then action dissipates into rhetoric.
    It is a privileged world in politics, a million miles from the worlds of those living in conditions where their rights are by bullies.

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  6. Evelyne Roullet
    Posted July 30, 2016 at 7:47 am

    Yes Phil, and we should also keep in mind that quite often the misbehaviour of a child is a cry for help.
    When a child misbehaves, we need to weigh up factors such as context, background and timing before deciding how to react. Many children are being punished for behaviour they cannot control, or that has justifiable cause.
    There could be a number of reasons for misbehaviour:
    To gain attention.
    Lack of skills to deal with the situation differently.
    Forgetting the rules or limits.
    Children need limits. They need safe rules within which they can make choices, have responsibility and experience success.
    Limits must be clear and consistent! Inconsistency leaves children uncertain about what they can and cannot do.
    “It’s not my fault!” Blaming others is modeled for the children on a daily basis: by adults, their peers, in the news etc.
    We just have to listen to our so called leaders who put responsibility aside and put the blame of any bad situation during their mandate on their predecessors!

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  7. Fred the Philistine
    Posted July 30, 2016 at 7:01 am

    @ Peter: Spending a further $1.5m on this is ludicrous. As a majority of these people are indigenous, if the elders cannot control their own people how in the hell can the white man.
    Why aren’t royalty cheques being used to set up rehabilitation centres in their own communities? For the ones who live in town, surely there are elders in the town who can rehabilitate their own people.
    Why always push it back onto the white man, when they will not do anything to help themselves when times get hard?
    I totally agree that a majority of Indigenous will not work.
    How can we give them an education when they will not go to school. It has been said by teachers that we teaching the unteachables.

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  8. Peter
    Posted July 29, 2016 at 4:58 pm

    @ Janet: We have been pushing to establish such a place for four years now.
    It’s near one of our most dysfunctional communities. There is abundant water, great soil and close to major transport routes.
    We have the full support of the elders. They want it to happen.
    We have prepared a comprehensive business plan. It will cost less that $1.5 million a year to run initially and will be paying for itself within five years.
    It’s using something the Territory Government spent $12 million building and the keys are still swinging in the doors.
    We went to Darwin to sell it. Adam fobbed us off the Ron Kelly, who couldn’t be bothered getting back to us.
    Styles wasn’t interested, nor was anybody else.
    Somebody from the Federal Minister’s office at least read the proposal and got back to us but told us we were wasting our time because “blackfellas won’t work”. Her exact words.
    Our plan isn’t all about working in a garden. Half the day will be spent on genuine education with a view to getting proper qualifications.
    Good luck getting the CLP to listen.

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  9. Another Observer
    Posted July 29, 2016 at 9:48 am

    @ Fred: With respect: “… here is no reason why business people like Steve Brown can’t take on some of these people as apprentices and show them life skills …”
    Why is it private enterprises’ place to socialise and give life skills to people?
    How about turning your focus on the continued failure of the school system and families who are turning out these people?

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  10. Janet Brown
    Posted July 29, 2016 at 9:23 am

    I got a Rotty show dog called Radar. I still have him and have done for six years now.
    He was kept in a cage nearly all his life with his previous owner.
    His new life with us he was emotional and fearful and afraid as he could not handle the open space free to roam.
    It took him over a year to settle down and be comfortable with being free. I have witnessed what he went through and it was heartbreaking to see him in such distress.
    He got through it and sometimes he has a relapse for some reason.
    He is loved and cared for and my baby boy.
    We have humans kept in cages for years and we do not think that is wrong.
    Really, I would never put a dog in a cage after what I saw it did to my dog.
    Why would I support it happening to humans?

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  11. Phil Walcott
    Posted July 29, 2016 at 8:17 am

    @ Evelyne: Thanks for the reminder that Restorative Justice is a positive conduit aiming for repairing the harm rather than punishing the person.
    This model has been used in some schools and juvenile justice system in Alice Springs very effectively over time. I know because I introduced it into the schools in which I worked.
    It should be adopted across all schools and within the community justice systems for younger people and adults.
    The models are out there; no need to re-invent any wheel.
    Go ahead … just do it!
    Phil Walcott
    Independent candidate for Braitling

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  12. Fred the Philistine
    Posted July 29, 2016 at 6:49 am

    @ Janet Brown: Have you forgotten how all the businesses put on a fuss when the government wanted the prisioners to build steel trusses for buildings and garbage bins, because they thought it was going to take work away from them?
    Like in may other states, the prisioners should be doing laundry for the hospital, growing food.
    People need to stop thinking “what is in it for me” and trying to fill their pockets with money all the time.
    There is no reason why business people like Steve Brown can’t take on some of these people as apprentices and show them life skills.
    The Alice Springs Council could also make use of these people to mantain the parks and gardens. This would give them an opportunity to participate in society.

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  13. Evelyne Roullet
    Posted July 29, 2016 at 6:42 am

    @ Fred the Philistine, Quote: “I agree children should not be bashed around, but if they want to act like animals then maybe they should be treated like one”. End of quote.
    Cruaulty to animals is not permitted in our country. May be we should ask the RSPCA to take over the management of our detention centers, and the prisoners will be treated with dignity.
    Words of some Australian leader Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull: “We have very, very strong animal welfare standards.
    “We condemn cruelty to animals – full stop.”
    Greyhound racing will be banned in New South Wales from July 1 next year, with Premier Mike Baird saying the “widespread and systemic mistreatment of animals” cannot be tolerated.
    I will copy the words of Alveda King, niece of Martin Luther King, because I believe that racism is the biggest saddest factor in this drama: “Racism oppresses its victims, but also binds the oppressors, who sear their consciences with more and more lies until they become prisoners of those lies. They cannot face the truth of human equality because it reveals the horror of the injustices they commit.”
    Too many Territorians are still coming out of the first fleets.

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  14. Fred the Philistine
    Posted July 28, 2016 at 7:17 pm

    How about we listen to the other side of the story, and learn what the correctional services people have to put up with each day.
    It is easy to blame the government for everything.
    What have these kids done to the guards form them to react in this way?
    If some of you readers are so concerned about the treatment of these “darling” children, how about you go and do some voluntary work at the detention centre, and try to rehabilitate these children and after three months we will see if they are still darling children.
    I agree children should not be bashed around, but if they want to act like animals then maybe they should be treated like one.
    These kids are capable of throwing chairs, spitting on people and have no respect for anyone. The letter which was supposedly written by Dylan, was not his own words.
    He has been a delinquent since the age of 14 or younger. This is a very one sided story. We need to know both sides.
    I think the government has been more than generous in providing funding for rehabilitation centres. This Territory gets more funding than any other state. Let’s be realistic and live in the real world.

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  15. Janet Brown
    Posted July 28, 2016 at 6:08 pm

    @ Peter: I would like to see prison as a farm environment. Growing food, gardens learning new trades and personal growth.
    We need prisoners to come out and be able to fit into the world.
    Violent prisoners require special blocks that are for the safety of everyone.
    And prisons should not be housing people with severe mental illness.

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  16. Peter
    Posted July 28, 2016 at 2:22 pm

    @ Janet: Ah yes, the politicians are the scapegoats here.
    Never mind that it was the CLP that framed and passed the legislation around the hood chair and all those other nasties.
    Never mind it was the CLP which removed the youth from the old Don Dale into the “evil, mediaeval” Berrimah facility, despite plenty of protest from just about everyone in youth justice that it wasn’t fit and proper.
    Never mind the CLP’s very own Attorney-General who ordered the police to go after the kids with dogs last year.
    Never mind it was the CLP who ordered an “independent” report into that very same facility last year, then ignored its findings.
    Never mind it was the CLP who had a report from the Children’s Commissioner 11 months ago that laid out everything that was in Four Corners on Monday night and didn’t just ignore it, moved on the author instead.
    Never mind it was the CLP who invented a cover story to demonise the youth who were tortured as a justification.
    Never mind it was the CLP who closed down effective, fuctional youth programs that were having evidential success in the youth justice arena.
    Never mind it was the CLP who turned a blind eye to the abject failures of the former Corrections Commissioner, then rolled out the red carpet for him afterwards.
    Never mind it was the Godfather of the CLP who, despite actually being the Federal Minister for Indigenous Affairs, couldn’t even be bothered watching it.
    Of course, Corrections is the only dysfunctional department under the CLP. Say it three times, click your heels and spin around.

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  17. Paul Parker
    Posted July 27, 2016 at 2:06 pm

    Re: Evelyne Roullet Posted July 27, 2016 at 8:07 am.
    Yes, I agree. Australia should model our prison system on Norway’s.

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  18. Posted July 27, 2016 at 9:14 am

    Like all Territorians, 1 Territory is shocked by the ABC Four Corners program on the treatment of youth detainees in the former Don Dale Centre.
    Prime Minister Turnbull is to be congratulated on his swift response by calling a Royal Commission into this disgraceful situation.
    Brutal treatment of already damaged and behaviorally dysfunctional youth cannot be, by any standard, the way to reform and turn them back into good and productive citizens.
    The Minister, John Elferink and the whole Giles Government, must stand condemned by their obvious approval of these cruel tactics and inhumane physical environment.
    The Labor Opposition does not have clean hands in this regard either as children were being treated this way under their watch as well, as far back as 2010.
    The Opposition stands condemned as well as they supported the restraint legislation earlier this year.
    Minister Elferink must resign immediately.
    1 Territory calls for the Royal Commission to be totally independent of the NT Government and not be a joint exercise so that the truth is revealed and responsibility for this regime be properly accounted for and individuals, if necessary, are brought before a court of law. If any citizen treated their own children in this way, the state would step in and remove those children and lay charges.
    The fact that the NT Government was responsible for this is just numbing in the extreme. The whole youth justice system is clearly broken as evidenced by the comments of the youth judge and the experienced legal practitioners in the Four Corners program.
    Practitioners working in the system and victims have been aware and frustrated for a long time of the deficiencies now public.
    A 1 Territory government would start, again using world’s best practice to deal with intractable, damaged and lost youth to turn them back into productive citizens and repay their victims for their crimes.
    Finally, 1 Territory is convinced that this is not the only area the current government has been compromised. We believe this and the previous government are complicit in continued abuse of power and privilege in the Northern Territory Corrections Department.
    1 Territory will set up an Independent Commission Against Corruption if elected in August.

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  19. Evelyne Roullet
    Posted July 27, 2016 at 8:07 am

    Maybe we should model our system Norway’s.
    http://www.businessinsider.com.au/why-norways-prison-system-is-so-successful-2014-12

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  20. Mark
    Posted July 26, 2016 at 9:27 pm

    All respondents here rightly express genuine concern. Tonight on ABC 1, 7.30, I watched the previous Commissioner of the Corrections Department, Ken Middlebrow, go out on a limb and support the practices in his former Corrections Department.
    It was Middlebrook who “fell on his sword” and resigned late 2015 following the escape of murderer and rapist Edward Horrell from a prison work camp. That someone would take personal responsibility is now rare in government and the Public Service.
    Middlebrook’s response this evening was a really brave move defying the popular feeling. But Middlebrook is closest to the real issues.
    The Don Dale staff are the ones at the coal face and are those actually responsible for ensuring order. Clearly they have suffered ridicule in recent times by break-outs followed by break-back-ins. No doubt they have over reacted. But what were their alternatives to youth running amok even in detention? Those most critical wouldn’t survive a day working in the Centre. Nor would they wish to. It’s easier to criticise from afar with clean hands.
    The staff lacks resources but more importantly, society (government) lacks the commitment to make the corrections that these minors have failed to receive right through their childhood to adolescence.
    The family unit is breaking down, Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal. It is society that has questions to answer. Many of these kids’ parents are simply missing in action. Failing-in-health and deceased grand parents have been struggling to bring up a generation without practical government support.
    Worse, actual government neglect and a real opposition to practices that the grandparents themselves received under a maligned paternal social system that managed, without trained teachers, to enable them to read and write and far, far more.
    This is something that government and a huge public service now fail to achieve!
    I doubt that any of these issues will surface in a “wide ranging terms of reference” Royal Commission called within (was it) 12 hours of yet another explosive Four Corners.
    It all sounds so familiar.
    Didn’t Gillard react in much the same way to a report on animal abuse and go close to destroying an industry?
    What was needed was a reasoned and measured response by the PM. Instead I sense he has done a Gillard and I am appalled. A Royal Commission will take at least two years and cost a squllion to report.
    Answers and responses are needed now.
    But I doubt that anything will really change because I cannot see that society has a social imperative for change. “Progressive” forces ensure as much.
    My positive feeling was to hear tonight that the young man at the centre of this issue has expressed the desire to “make amends” to society. Perhaps there have been some positive outcomes from such a dark episode.

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  21. Ian Sharp
    Posted July 26, 2016 at 8:58 pm

    I find myself happily agreeing with Janet Brown about putting away the big stick with these kids, it just doesn’t work.
    This was pointed out years ago by John McCarthy (thanks for the reminder Alex Nelson), who, incidentally, is the father of our new Senator, Malarndirri.
    Let’s hope the Royal Commission leads to a new approach, one that is resourced appropriately. This will require Federal Government leadership, I think, to provide the funding required, and to overcome the squeals from the likes of Peter Bassett (a self proclaimed leftard spotter) and the anonymous Original Centralian (aka Cowardly Custard).
    For too long the ill-informed views of their ilk have been given undue weight in our small pond.
    As for ministerial responsibilty? More of it I say, that’s how the Westminster system is supposed to work, make ministers accountable, keep them on their toes, oversighting their departments properly.
    Tough, but it will make ministers and their departments better in the long run.

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  22. Evelyne Roullet
    Posted July 26, 2016 at 6:16 pm

    We live in a very strange world:
    We cannot smack the children when they are naughty; we cannot have a curfew to keep them off the streets; but we can torture them when they become criminals.
    No, Original Centralian, it is not “alright for these ‘children’ to hold our town to ransom, forcing the citizens of Alice Springs to lock themselves into their homes after the sun goes down every night”.
    But neither is the treatment they received at the detention center.

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  23. Janet Brown
    Posted July 26, 2016 at 4:58 pm

    I watched Four Corners in horror. Horror that our so called civilised society has learnt nothing since I was a kid on the street.
    I find it also appalling that the elected members are being used as a scape goat for the failings of a government department.
    We have people in charge of those departments to deal with the operations and overall conditions of their areas of charge.
    It is people employed to care for the detainees that are filmed in the abuse or these kids.
    So what is happening to those individuals who have committed these acts of abuse. Where are their names. Where, is the person responsible for corrections?
    The failure is not the Minister’s it is the department and their staff.
    I am not a supporter of incarceration. I believe that when it comes to children we need to be mindful of their family situations. That is why myself and hubby Steve have been lobbying for over 10 years to get a safe house for the kids.
    A place kids can drop into and feel safe and food available. If homes are unsafe a bed is available to ensure a safe place to sleep. Steve and I have worked hard to find a place to start. Youth services have failed. Children and Family’s Services have failed. Bush mob are doing a great job on limited funding.
    We do not need to imprison kids. We need to address their issues. If they suffer from mental illness due to petrol sniffling or other drug abuse, then we require a secure place that is similar to a home life for normal families.
    We need to put the big stick away and offer hope and opportunity to those in our community. Anger manifests itself in anti-social behaviour.
    Our community pays for our neglect of basic rights. Yes, in this situation we are in need of government to fund the facility / facilities.
    We do not require money to be wasted on parenting programs. We do not require money to be wasted in consulting groups.
    The perfect place at this time would be the old Clark Rubber store. Currently for sale and do up to cater for night time safety and security.
    A place like home provide bread butter and spreads. A great hang out from 8am-10pm after that lock down for those sleeping there.

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  24. Peter Bassett
    Posted July 26, 2016 at 4:35 pm

    Nice to see the ignorant bigotted leftard ABC/Labor joint venture doing its normal pre election racist tax payer funded beatup for Gunner and his tribe of fiscal misfits.
    These old Dale records have already been attended to by the correct authority and any Blind Freddy could see those hardened lovely criminals were lying thru their teeth to the ABC bimbo. Turnbull, just like Fraser and Whitlam, has just proven world wide how ignorant he is.
    It’s a shame Giles has sacrificed Elferink already in front of the lynch mob.
    Hope the Dale staff identified have Shane Stone and Paul Everingham acting for them in their $50m defamation claim against Turnbull … and the ABC.

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  25. Another Observer
    Posted July 26, 2016 at 4:21 pm

    @ Dalton Dupuy: You say that this happened on the current Government’s watch and Giles must resign. However, it is all over social media at the moment: The ABC once again, changing the news to suit a political agenda, had removed the time stamp – the date on the original video 12/09/2010.
    Whilst I don’t agree with or condone the treatment of anyone in this fashion, what really makes me sick to my stomach are the “activists” and political parties who are using this to beat the CLP up.
    The CLP deserve heaps of criticism, and in my humble view, GILES should be booted out the door – but my guess is that we will see The Greens use this as a platform to signal their moral virtue.

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  26. David de Vries
    Posted July 26, 2016 at 1:47 pm

    We don’t need a RC we need to rescind self government. Again and again the residents have proven themselves incapable of self government. This tiny population was never going to develop effective governance of judicial, education, health etc systems. Destined to fail. Left out to dry. Intervention Now.

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  27. Posted July 26, 2016 at 1:05 pm

    Arrernte House traces its beginning to February 1975 when the Whitlam Government announced that Lot 215 on South Terrace was the site chosen for “a remand centre for children and plans [were] being prepared by the Social Development Branch of the Northern Territory”.
    The Department of Housing and Construction announced the awarding of the tender for “the juvenile remand and assessment centre” to Sitzler Bros. in October 1975.
    “The centre will have family-type accommodation for up to 18 young people” and the “attractive concrete brick buildings will be arranged around a centre courtyard” with “facilities for group activities such as crafts and recreation areas”.
    The new “Alice Springs Training and Assessment Centre” was officially opened by Senator Bernie Kilgariff almost 40 years ago on October 27, 1977 – Universal Children’s Day – which he named Giles House.
    It was already controversial “because although completed some months ago, the centre has remained closed because of lack of staff. Juvenile offenders on remand are now being held in the prison for adults”.
    At the official opening, the Assistant Director of Social Development assured “the centre would encourage children to ‘look out’ – not to restrict them” and “that the purpose of the institution was to look after the welfare of children who had failed to conform. It was not a punitive institution”.
    Senator Kilgariff stated the centre “would do away with the practice of having to send children to the adult prison”.
    He “also announced the formation of a committee advising the centre on Aboriginal or part-coloured inmates. Representatives from Aboriginal organisations would serve on that committee” and “consideration was also being given to the training of Aboriginal welfare workers”.
    The Deputy Leader of the NT Opposition, Neville Perkins, “welcomed the establishment of the centre”, describing it as “potentially a significant improvement on the previous situation whereby there was a serious lack of proper retention facilities other than gaol for children in conflict with the law”.
    Perkins further stated: “In view of the fact that a suitable facility for juveniles in conflict with the courts is now established, the Majority Party [CLP] has a responsibility to legislate immediately to halt the practice of gaoling children with adult prisoners under the provisions of the Social Welfare Ordinance.
    “Since the statistics indicate that the largest proportion of juvenile residents at the centre are likely to be Aboriginal, it is vital that the Department of the Northern Territory make provision for the appointment of Aboriginal parole officers to operate at the community level in coming to terms with delinquency problems. The limited accommodation capacity of the centre also reinforces the need for suitable arrangements in dealing with juvenile problems in the community.
    “The available statistics demonstrate also the need for sufficient Aboriginal staff to be trained and employed by the centre, especially in regard to improving the cultural and communications barriers which are likely to arise”.
    A school social worker, John McCarthy, “described the concept of using Giles House for the purpose of training and rehabilitating Aboriginal juveniles who didn’t conform on settlements and missions as yet another example of the outdated and archaic thinking of government departments in the field of Aboriginal welfare.
    “Mr McCarthy said it was quite unrealistic for administrators to believe a white, urban, middle-class institution could prepare rural Aboriginal youth from a predominantly Aboriginal community to conform to the standards of their own particular community and culture”.
    Early in 1978 Giles House was still experiencing problems when the Member for Alice Springs, Rod Oliver, revealed the centre housed only two inmates believed to be “two male Aborigines aged 14 and 15” and that “he understood that staffing problems were the reason why Giles House was not yet being used.
    “An official opening was held on October 27 last year when a director was appointed” but “in the meantime many sources have expressed concern over children being held in the adult prison.
    “A local social worker said about 150 children had been held in the Alice gaol since 1973, some of them more than once – a total of 200 admissions. Of the 200 admissions 39 were of children under 14 years.
    “The two children in gaol now were practically in solitary confinement for 14 hours a day because they were being kept separate from the adult prisoners for much of the time.”
    All of this was happening in the late 1970s when I was a student at the Alice Springs High School. One of my classmates was Mark Payne, who eventually rose to become an Assistant Commissioner of the NT Police until recently appointed as Corrections Commissioner.
    Giles House came under review by the NT Government in September 1990 when once again it was down to two inmates. Correctional Services Minister Mike Reed “admitted the operational future of Giles House lay in different areas with the opening of Darwin’s Don Dale juvenile centre [scheduled] in May 1991.
    “The Don Dale Centre will cope with the future needs of Territory juvenile justice.”
    The Director of Probation, Parole and Juvenile Justice, Lyn Keogh, “would endeavour to discover future additional uses and alternative programs for Giles House” which may include “housing for youngsters that need accommodation because of a home situation” and “juveniles in custody that can’t survive in normal schools”.
    In January 1991 it was announced “Giles House will all but close as a juvenile detention centre from July this year when the new $1.7 million Don Dale Juvenile Detention Centre in Darwin is completed.
    “When Giles House was first built, it was the only juvenile detention facility in the Territory and the majority of offenders were from the Top End. The number of youths at Giles House began declining when the Malak House in Darwin and the Wilderness Youth Camp in the Top End began operating.
    “Transport and Works Minister Fred Finch said Territory builders P. W. Baxter and Associates had been awarded the contract to build the new Don Dale centre which will replace Malak House. It will be purpose built for juvenile offenders and house maximum and minimum security prisoners.
    “Mr Finch said it would include a medical centre, catering and laundry facilities, administration area, swimming pool and multi-purpose ball court”.

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  28. Paul Parker
    Posted July 26, 2016 at 12:24 pm

    Any parent found using such treatment would be charged.
    Such treatments must be independently approved on a case by case basis by courts, without full judicial consideration and approval such behaviour needs be regarded as criminal.
    Such review essential to protect prisoners, also those required to treat them.
    Chief Minister Adam Giles and commentators need clearly make point exists all around Australia in governments a systemic avoidance from addressing issues raised in open public debate.
    Legislative authorities have responsibility to address openly issues in public discussion – particularly more difficult issues.
    All legislators need know it is NOT acceptable to present then push through their respective legislatures whatever numbers they hold to obtain into legislation without full, open, and adequate public debates.
    On so many issues, public discussion is clearly inadequate.
    Recent Commonwealth election, particularly the Senate demonstrates a distrust for geographic representatives, reminiscent of why gerrymander is in popular speech.
    Adam Giles is correct youths in detention are a small percentage of youths.
    IMHO needed is more public discussion about how to increase effectiveness of adult correctional programs to reduce percentage of recurring prison residents.
    I accept Corrections Minister John Elferink is aware of the breaches of human rights standards present, with need to replace them with better purpose-built facilities and programs.
    A challenge for all legislators is for them to provide adequate support for required improvements.
    The challenge for all voters is for them also to support the required improvements.

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  29. Original Centralian
    Posted July 26, 2016 at 12:18 pm

    It is alright for these “children” to hold our town to ransom, forcing the citizens of Alice Springs to lock themselves into their homes after the sun goes down every night.
    These “children” are running amok, wreaking havoc throughout the whole town and now they have the do-gooders batting for them.
    Those innocent faces you see are not innocent at all.
    Don’t turn your back on them!
    Do the crime, do the time!
    The trouble is that these “children” are used to getting their own way and as soon as they are institutionalised they don’t like it!
    Well, the people of Alice Springs don’t like being locked up every night in their own homes and not having a social life all!

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  30. Hal Duell
    Posted July 26, 2016 at 10:24 am

    Here’s a question the coming Royal Commission could ask but probably won’t: If the Federal Government can do it on Nauru and Manus Island, why can’t the NT Government do it in Darwin?

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  31. Dalton Dupuy
    Posted July 26, 2016 at 10:04 am

    The Chief Minister must step down. This brutality happened on his watch and his government covered it up. Mick Gooda, Social Justice Commissioner, has asked the Federal government to intervene and dismiss the NT government.
    The torture and abuse of Australian children as witnessed on Four Corners last night was horrific.
    I welcome the Royal Commission as called by the Prime Minister even though the report on these practices was told to the NT government two years ago. And this year the government passed legislation authorising the use of the restraint chair.
    Show some courage Adam, step down.

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