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A blueprint for change – NJP applauds NT Royal Commission

National Justice Project Media Release

The pro bono human rights law firm, the National Justice Project has applauded the forensic and thorough findings of the NT Royal Commission into Youth Detention as a blueprint for positive and much needed change.

Principal Solicitor at the NJP, Adjunct Professor George Newhouse said today that the Royal Commission and Board of Inquiry did a great job in exposing systemic failures in the youth justice system.

“We are proud to have played a role in the Royal Commission by writing submissions on behalf of an Aboriginal family of 12 year old girl who was humiliated by police when they arrested her at her school and took her from her family. She later ended up at Don Dale youth detention centre. We also represented and appeared at the Royal Commission with Professor Larissa Behrendt from UTS who revealed shocking rates of Aboriginal child removals in the NT. The consequences of the NT’s abysmal treatment of Aboriginal youth are almost unbelievable in the prosperous Australia of 2017,” said Professor Newhouse.

“The Royal Commission heard that children have been subjected to almost Dickensian horrors in detention’” he continued. “Their treatment was, and remains, a terrible abuse of human rights of some of the most vulnerable people in our society. We should collectively hang our heads in shame.”

However Professor Newhouse did add that there is now a blueprint for change and a way for the country to move forward.

“The National Justice Project fully endorses and supports the recommendations of the Royal Commission. Not just to give kids in the NT a real chance at life, but also to underline that it’s a massive waste of time and taxpayer money to lock children up and then mistreat them in such a callous inhumane manner.”


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  1. diannaart

    The treatment of children, particularly indigenous children yet another failure by us – all of us. There is no excuse.

    Australia, the world is watching.

  2. Kyran

    Whilst the RC has done its job, it’s now up to the Federal Government to do something. How is that going for us these days?
    This is the same Federal Government that was co-convenor of the RC, insisting it only occurs in a few institutions in the NT.
    This is the same Federal Government that has declined to accept that our First People should have any voice in their own future, notwithstanding that they have tens of thousands of years more experience in working out how to shape their own future.
    This is the same Federal Government that, in 2017, has promised only to ratify OPCAT by the end of the year, not to actually do anything about it.

    “Attorney-General George Brandis said the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT) would be ratified by the end of this year.
    Australia’s prisons and immigration detention centres would then be monitored by a network of independent inspecting bodies, which could include existing human rights bodies.
    The appointment of those inspectorates would be worked out in consultation with the states and territories.
    “These are intended to assist states to better protect people in detention from torture and mistreatment,” Senator Brandis said.

    “What is OPCAT?
    Ratifying OPCAT would ensure that youth detention centres and police lock-ups are subject to much stronger independent oversight and monitoring.

    As well as conducting visits to these facilities, the National Preventative Mechanism would be able to:
    • conduct confidential interviews with children in detention;
    • review and comment on laws and policies (like restraint chairs and spit hooding)
    • make recommendations to improve the treatment and conditions of children in detention; and,
    • maintain contact with the UN Subcommittee on the Prevention of Torture.

    At the moment, no agency in any Australian state or territory monitors youth detention facilities and police lock-ups in a way that fully complies with OPCAT.

    Source: Amnesty Australia”

    The recommendations of the RC are both stark and confronting.

    And the response? No criminal charges means no wrongs were committed, says El-fink.

    And our First People brace themselves for another round of being made the scapegoats for the situation imposed on them and about which their opinions and advice are steadfastly ignored.

    “The National Justice Project fully endorses and supports the recommendations of the Royal Commission. Not just to give kids in the NT a real chance at life, but also to underline that it’s a massive waste of time and taxpayer money to lock children up and then mistreat them in such a callous inhumane manner.”
    There will be more death’s in custody, 10 year olds will still be considered as adults for the purposes of criminal proceedings and nothing will be done.
    ‘Cause that’s what the Federal Government does. Nothing.
    Thank you Mr Newhouse. Take care

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