This abuse was revealed in the final report of the Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory, released today.
The report revealed children in detention in the Northern Territory were exposed to inhumane treatment in violation of their most basic rights. These children were punished in ways no child should ever endure.
Expert evidence presented to the inquiry highlighted that locking up children does not prevent crime, but increases the likelihood of them re-offending in the future.
Save the Children Northern Territory state manager Craig Kelly said: “The report calls for urgent action to address the over-representation of Aboriginal children in the criminal justice system in the Northern Territory, where Aboriginal children are locked up at 25 times the rate of other children.”
“The report outlines the need to address underlying reasons why children come into conflict with the law. These need to be addressed in a holistic manner with greater investment in therapeutic and rehabilitative support models,” Mr Kelly said.
“Every child in detention, or in out-of-home care, must be given a real opportunity to reach their full potential and their families need to be receiving the support they need from day one.
“Aboriginal community direction in service delivery is critical to addressing the systemic failures that increase the risk of Aboriginal children coming into conflict with the law.”
The report specifies the best way to improve the NT’s youth detention crisis is to increase investment in crime prevention and early intervention and diversion away from the courts. Community engagement and involvement is needed at all levels for effective reform.
Mr Kelly said this was an opportunity for governments and service delivery organisations to work in genuine partnership with Aboriginal peak bodies and communities to deliver sweeping improvements across all States and Territories.
“This must draw from the recommendations of the Royal Commission, in particular closing Don Dale Detention centre and the High Security Unit, raising the age of criminal responsibility and establishing a network of family support centres to provide placed-based services for families in the Northern Territory,” Mr Kelly said.
Save the Children Australia calls on the NT and Federal Governments to support key recommendations from the Royal Commission, including a commitment to an implementation timeline and adequate resourcing.
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