More than 100 organisations (including many health groups) are supporting a call for the Royal Commission into abuses within the NT’s youth justice system to take a national approach, independent of the NT Government.
Read their statement below.
“The undersigned organisations strongly welcome Prime Minister Turnbull’s Royal Commission into the horrific abuse of children in detention in the Northern Territory, but call for it to be conducted completely independently from the Northern Territory Government and for a broader inquiry into the youth justice system.
The shocking footage revealed in this week’s ABC Four Corners episode exposed a broken system, with systemic cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment of children, most of whom were Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander.
But the issue of over-incarceration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth, or mistreatment in detention, is not confined to the Northern Territory.
It is vitally important that a light is now shone on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young peoples’ interaction with the youth justice system in each State and Territory jurisdiction.
The Royal Commission should, as a matter of priority, investigate the situation in the Northern Territory, including ensuring those involved in abuse and torture are held to account along with those responsible for the systemic failure.
The terms of reference must be developed in consultation with the Northern Territory Aboriginal organisations and the youth justice sector, and should:
- Encompass the entire Northern Territory youth justice system, not just issues relating to detention facilities;
- Examine all previous enquiries relating to youth justice and investigate why therecommendations were not implemented;
- Not limit how far into the past the Commission can inquire;
- Ensure the inquiry is completed promptly and that the Government commits to implementing all recommendations;
- Be conducted entirely independently from the Northern Territory Government; and
- Be chaired by an appropriate expert and must have Aboriginal representation from the NT.
As a second step, the Royal Commission must conduct a broader investigation across all Australian State and Territory jurisdictions into the underlying factors driving engagement with the justice system and the treatment of children in juvenile detention.
This could take the form of a separate national inquiry which:
- Examines the drivers of over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people in the justice system, including:
– Social and economic determinants of incarceration including poverty, educational attainment, and health; and
– Institutional/structural discrimination and racism.
- Considers the interrelation between family violence, child removal, disability, youth suicide and incarceration; and
- Reviews the implementation of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody’s recommendations.
While it is necessary to shine a comprehensive light on these issues at a national level, government can take steps right now to improve the youth justice system, including:
- Urgent ratification of the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture (OPCAT);
- Raising of minimum age of criminal responsibility to 12;
- Setting meaningful National Justice Targets through Council of Australian Governments (COAG);
Developing, through COAG, an intergovernmental approach to tackle imprisonment and violence rates; and
Investing in effective early intervention, prevention and diversion programs.”
- Aboriginal Alcohol and Drug Services
- Aboriginal Family Law Services (WA)
- Aboriginal Family Violence Prevention Legal Service Victoria
- Act for Kids
- Advocacy Law Alliance Inc.
- African Think Tank Inc
- Amnesty International Australia
- Andrew Jackomos, Commissioner for Aboriginal Children and Young People
- Anglican Social Responsibilities Commission
- Anglicare SA
- Asylum Seeker Resource Centre
- Australian College of Midwives
- Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association
- Australian Lawyers for Human Rights
- Australian Physiotherapy Association
- Australian Youth Action Coalition
- Autistic Family Collective
- Barwon Community Legal Service
- Belconnen Community Service
- Berry Street
- Binaal Billa Family Violence Prevention Legal Service
- Bringing Them Home Committee (WA) Inc.
- CAAFLU Aboriginal Corporation
- Castan Centre for Human Rights Law, Monash University
- Centre for Excellence in Child and Family Welfare
- Common Grace
- Community Legal Centres NSW
- Community Legal Centres Queensland
- Connecting Home
- Domestic Violence Victoria
- Edith Cowan University
- Elizabeth Evatt Community Legal Centre
- Families Australia
- Family Worker Training + Development Programme Inc
- Federation of Community Legal Centres (Victoria) Inc.
- First Peoples Disability Network
- Flemington & Kensington Community Legal Centre Inc. (FKCLC)
- Healing Foundation
- Human Rights Law Centre
- Immigration Advice and Rights Centre
- Indigenous Allied Health Australia Ltd
- Jumbunna Research Unit, UTS
- Just Reinvest NSW
- Justice Reinvestment SA
- Kingsford Legal Centre
- Latrobe Valley Bus Lines – Kindred Spirits Foundation
- Law Council of Australia
- Life Wihout Barriers
- Marrickville Legal Centre
- National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services
- National Association of Community Legal Centres (NACLC)
- National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples
- National Ethnic Disability Alliance (NEDA)
- National FVPLS Forum
- National Stolen Generations Alliance
- Northern Rivers Community Legal Centre
- Northside Community Service
- NSW Aboriginal Land Council
- Oxfam Australia
- People with Disability Australia (PWDA)
- Plan International Australia
- Public Health Association of Australia
- Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Protection Peak (QATSICPP)
- Queensland Advocacy Incorporated
- Reconciliation WA
- Refugee Advice and Casework Service
- Save the Children
- SCALES Community Legal Centre
- Scarred Tree Ministries of St Johns Anglican Church Glebe
- Sisters Inside
- Smart Justice for Young People
- Southern Aboriginal Corporation
- Sydney Institute of Criminology.
- Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre
- The Kimberley Foundation
- The Youth Junction Inc.
- Townsville Community Legal Service Inc.
- UNICEF Australia
- Uniting Jaanimili
- University of South Australia
- Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency
- Victorian Aboriginal Children and Young People’s Alliance
- Villamanta Disability Rights Legal Service Inc
- WA Council of Social Service
- Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health Service
- Women in Prison Advocacy Network (WIPAN)
- Women with Disabilities Australia (WWDA)
- Yarraville Community Centre
100.Yorganop Association Incorporated
101.Youth Advocacy Centre
102.Youth Affairs Council of Victoria
103.Youth Coalition of the ACT
104.Youth Network of Tasmania (YNOT)
Read more about these issues in more than 70 #JustJustice articles published to date here.
Croakey acknowledges and thanks all those who donated to support #JustJustice (see their names here). We also thank and acknowledge our premium sponsors, the Jesuit Social Services, and Frank Meany of One Vision.