NT to spend $229m to fix juvenile system

27/04/2020 Posted by admin

The NT government is due to announce its financial response to youth detention recommendations.The footage of a teenaged Dylan Voller tied to a restraining chair in a spit-hood prompting a Royal Commission has culminated in the Northern Territory government committing $229.6 million to fix its broken detention system.

The five-year funding plan to implement more than 200 royal commission recommendations has a strong emphasis on family support services so children are looked after and diversion options to prevent them ending up in detention in the first place.

It was warmly received but with the condition that the money is properly used to make meaningful change, especially among Aboriginal people who represent the majority of youth detention centre inmates in the NT.

Minister for Territory Families Dale Wakefield insisted that would happen.

“One of the things we are doing differently is the level of oversight on this money … every CEO is delivering this reform as well as the minister and we will sit around the table regularly ensuring this money is going where it needs to be,” she told reporters.

“As a government, as a minister, I am absolutely committed to making sure that this reform hits the ground.”

Darwin’s infamous Don Dale youth detention centre, at which leaked video revealed youths being tear-gassed, wearing spit hoods and otherwise mistreated, and its Alice Springs equivalent will be replaced.

The funding also includes $66.9 million on a new IT system to better link health and police databases.

That has been motivated partly by the recent alleged rape of a two-year-old girl in Tennant Creek.

The Territory Families department said it had had no specific concerns about the girl before it emerged it had received multiple notifications about her safety.

In its report handed down this year, the Royal Commission slammed “a system which was meant to make the community safer, in fact, made it more dangerous”.

The NT government authors of the $229.6 million plan say it is supposed to fix that by both improving youth centre operations but also better identifying children at high risk of abuse or neglect and demonstrating anti-social behaviour.

Law Council of Australia president Morry Bailes welcomed the funding but said the NT Government should raise the age of criminal responsibility from 10 to 12 and avoid detaining children under 14, as the commission recommended.

NT Council of Social Services vice president and Aboriginal Tangentyere Council manager Patrick MacDonald said he welcomed the plan, especially the focus on providing services to help families look after their own children.

“But if the plan isn’t implemented in a genuine fashion and we don’t all make an effort to ensure these reforms are achieved and maintained then it will continue to be a problem and we will all be judged harshly for that,” he told reporters.

Australian Associated Press

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