26 July 2016
The Australian Council of Social Services (ACOSS) supports a Royal Commission into juvenile detention.
ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie said the treatment of young detainees in the Northern Territory revealed on Four Corners last night was horrific.
“Immediate steps need to be taken to get to the bottom of what happened and ensure it never happens again.
“The abuse of children is abhorrent and this case was particularly disturbing given it occurred when they were in the custody of the Northern Territory Government.
“ACOSS welcomes the swift action of the Prime Minister in supporting a Royal Commission and urge that he consults with community leaders and stakeholders on the Terms of Reference as a first priority.
“The actions of those individuals have no place in a modern justice system which should be focussed on rehabilitation and supporting young people to lead a life free of offending.
“The material shown on Four Corners reveals deeper problems within the criminal justice system in the Northern Territory and highlights yet again the appalling over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in juvenile detention and prison populations around the country.
“In the Northern Territory 96% of those in juvenile detention are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander. Nationally, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people make up over 54% of young people in detention.
ACOSS endorses the calls for action by the Northern Territory Council of Social Service for immediate action that must occur in the Northern Territory, the call for a Royal Commission, and the call by the Change the Record campaign for Federal leadership to reduce the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the justice system and end abuse and mistreatment of young people, including by taking immediate steps to:
- Develop terms of reference for the Royal Commission in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and youth organisations;
- Set targets to reduce the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the justice system and to reduce violence against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people; and
- Immediately ratify the Optional Protocol for the Convention Against Torture to ensure independent monitoring of all places of detention.