Federal Labor welcomes the landmark report of the Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory, released today.
The Royal Commission was an important response to shocking footage of abuse inside Don Dale Youth Detention Centre, exposed by ABC’s Four Corners program.
Labor thanks the Commissioners and their teams for their hard work and dedication on this important report.
They have done an extraordinary amount of work in a short period of time to expose failings and identify solutions.
We pay tribute to the Commissioners and their staff. We also thank all of those who gave evidence to the Commission – particularly the young people and their families who shared their experiences.
The report identifies shocking examples of abuse and systemic failures in the Northern Territory youth justice system. These failings have disproportionately impacted upon the Indigenous community, who make up over 90 per cent of youth detainees in the Northern Territory.
The current system does not protect children, and it does not keep communities safe.
A system that receives vulnerable young people and breaks them is a system that needs to change.
Labor calls on the federal and Northern Territory governments to carefully consider the Royal Commission’s recommendations, and work together where necessary. There is no room for delay.
While this Royal Commission is focused on the Northern Territory, there are learnings for all state and territory justice systems.
This is also an opportunity for the Turnbull Government to reconsider its opposition to national targets to reduce Indigenous incarceration and improve community safety under the Closing the Gap framework.
The care of children – whether they are in or out of youth detention – is one of the most important duties of the state.
This can never be allowed to happen again.