Media Release: Urgent action needed to stop shameful neglect of our children 14/9/22

For immediate release Wednesday 14th September 2022

Media Release: Urgent action needed to stop shameful neglect of our children

Will it take a tragedy to force the Northern Territory Government to take tangible action and remove children from the notorious Don Dale Detention Centre?
The revelations that Acting Children’s Commissioner Nicole Hucks had written to the Chief Minister to raise “grave concerns” about a 200 per cent increase in children in detention in two years and 400 per cent rise in cases of self-harm in a year at Don Dale might finally spark action.
A community that treats its children like this, breaching the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, should be ashamed, Northern Territory Council of Social Service CEO Deborah Di Natale, Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance NT chief executive Dr John Paterson and Danila Dilba CEO Rob McPhee said in a joint statement.
It is five years since the Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory recommended a trauma-informed therapeutic model of youth detention and that children only go into custody as a last resort
But last year the NT Government ensured the opposite occurred, when it toughened the youth bail laws and ensured that children in the NT are being unnecessarily imprisoned at rates higher than they have ever been.
It took Territory Families until this year to release a new aspirational model of care for NT youth detention centres.
“Last week I visited Don Dale and I cannot reconcile how in a wealthy country we can keep children in such dehumanising conditions devoid of a therapeutic approach,” Ms Di Natale said.
The Acting Children’s Commissioner has raised critical issues and we cannot wait until late 2023 for the new detention facility to open, we must urgently act.”
Mr Paterson said: “It is unacceptable that girls are showering while wearing clothes because they feel unsafe and do not have privacy and are not provided with enough sanitary items.“
Mr McPhee said: ““The tough on crime attitude of the NT government is not addressing the issue.
“Detention or locking kids up isn’t the answer. We know that putting a child in a facility like the old Berrimah adult jail is traumatising and likely to negatively impact on the wellbeing of that child and their future forever. This must stop.”

Media Contact: Greg Roberts on 0429 515 013 or Twitter Facebook Website

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