Tomorrow the Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory will release its interim report into systemic abuses and mistreatment of children in youth prisons.
The Human Rights Law Centre’s Senior Policy Advocate, Shahleena Musk, said whilst the report will focus on failures and abuses in the Northern Territory’s youth justice system, it will have valuable lessons for all Australian states.
“These types of problems are not limited to the NT. Right across Australia, politicians are trying to score points by looking tough and ignoring the evidence on what actually works. The Victorian Government’s decision to lock up kids in a maximum security adult prison is a prime example of bad policy compounding the problem,” said Ms Musk.
Ms Musk said she was pleased to see the Northern Territory Government ready to heed the lessons learnt from Don Dale and to take action based on the evidence.
“We know that overly punitive and tougher responses are harmful and don’t work. They don’t help kids get back on track, which is ultimately in the interest of community safety,” said Ms Musk.
The Human Rights Law Centre had raised concerns about conditions and practices at Don Dale with the Northern Territory Government on numerous occasions and argued that the old adult prison was manifestly unfit to hold children. The concerns were dismissed at the time by the Northern Territory’s Corrections Minister, John Elferink.
“It’s disappointing to see history repeating itself in Victoria. Victoria has done some great work in achieving one of the lowest youth crime rates in the country, so to see the Government go down this dark path of locking up kids in places like Barwon is just heartbreaking,” said Ms Musk.
For further comments or queries please contact:
Tom Clarke, HRLC Director of Communications, on 0422 545 763