Youth detention system a failure



Sir – The failings of the Territory’s youth detention system under multiple governments were made abundantly clear last week with the release of the Review of the Northern Territory Youth Detention System Report.


This report outlined that staff training is grossly inadequate and that there is a lack of consistency and direction in managing young people dealing with multiple problems, including drug and alcohol abuse and mental illness.


The Northern Territory is one of the only jurisdictions in Australia to have rising youth incarceration rates and it is clear the system, at significant cost to taxpayers, is not succeeding in rehabilitating young offenders.


Through Jesuit Social Services’ experience over nearly 40 years of working with young people in contact with the justice system, we know that having experienced and well-trained staff is vital to develop relationships with young people and assist them to overcome disadvantage and build pathways back into the community.


We call on the Government to implement all recommendations included in the report. We remain concerned however that there is no recommendation to upgrade the Alice Springs Justice Detention Centre.


The youth detention environment outlined in the report is failing young people, their families and the entire Territory.


Julie Edwards
CEO, Jesuit Social Services

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