Photo: screen capture from a Commission webcast in 2016.
The Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory will hold public hearings in Alice Springs, starting 13 March, focussed on the detention system.
The hearings will explore:
• treatment and control of children held in detention centres;
• adequacy of the facilities;
• care, including health and education;
• administration and governance of the detention centres;
• staffing and training of the detention centres; and,
• oversight, monitoring and complaints mechanisms.
At the hearings the Commission expects to hear from:
• former Youth Justice Officers;
• children/young adults who have been in detention facilities in the Northern Territory;
• superintendents/managers of the detention centres along with those responsible for oversight of the detention centres; and
• professionals providing services to those in detention such as case workers and lawyers.
These hearings will continue in Darwin from 20 March.
In the meantime, meetings will be held this month to hear directly from current and former staff of youth detention facilities in both Darwin and Alice Springs.
A roundtable on comparative and alternative approaches to youth detention will be also held.
As part of its investigation, the Commission is examining child protection and detention systems in other Australian and international jurisdictions.
In the past two weeks Commissioners Gooda and White AO have met with researchers, judges, magistrates and service providers in Queensland, Victoria and South Australia.
Next week, the Commissioners will visit New Zealand to see first-hand their alternative approach to youth protection and detention. New Zealand faces many similar challenges to the Northern Territory in dealing with youth issues in protection and detention.
New Zealand’s alternative model is based on restorative justice principles and focuses on community based alternative action outside of the formal criminal justice system. There is an emphasis on diversion, with youth offenders required to face up to and be accountable for their actions. The Commissioners will visit a number of sites in Auckland and Wellington and speak to young people, staff and judicial representatives.
The Commission will deliver an interim report after the end of March.
Source: NTRC media release.