In 2017, The Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory recommended that Don Dale Youth Detention Centre be closed within three months. At the time, NT Labor agreed.
In 2021, NT Labor made it harder for young offenders to get bail and committed $2.5 million to expanding Don Dale to keep more children in jail.
“The Royal Commission was very clear: imprisoning our kids has failed to rehabilitate them, protect their human rights or even obey the law. And yet, NT Labor are putting more children in jail,” said Djab wurrung, Gunnai and Gunditjmara Senator Lidia Thorpe, the Greens spokesperson for First Nations and Justice.
“Incarcerating our children doesn't help them, it brutalises them.”
With the expansion of Don Dale underway, earlier this week NT Labor lost a bid to hide the fact that they’re going to need to pay a record $35 million settlement to children who were assaulted, abused and falsely imprisoned at Don Dale between 2006 and 2017.
“The settlement isn't a victory, it's a tragedy that it became necessary. I'm heartbroken for these young ones and their families, no one should have to carry this kind of pain. It’s not a coincidence that suicide is the leading cause of death for First Nations children aged five to 17 years,” said Thorpe.
The latest Close the Gap Report confirms that Indigenous suicide and incarceration rates are rising.
“Even if you’ve never been to jail, if you’re Aboriginal in Australia you probably know someone who has. We’re talking about people's family members, their friends. When you care about someone, you carry their pain as your own. When someone in our community is hurt, it hurts all of us,” said Thorpe.
“Our kids have been abused and chief minister Michael Gunner calls it a “stain” on the Territory’s reputation. Our babies are not a stain. They are beautiful and we care about them, even if the government doesn’t."