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Greens call for Royal Commission to reach beyond Northern Territory

Media Release
Rachel Siewert 26 Jul 2016

The Australian Greens have welcomed the dismissal of the Northern Territory's Corrections Minister and the decision to establish a Royal Commission in response to the Four Corners report into abuse in youth detention facilities.

"This Royal Commission needs wide terms of reference to determine the full extent of abuse both in the Northern Territory and elsewhere," said Greens Leader Senator Richard Di Natale.

"John Elferink's sacking as Corrections Minister is appropriate. The NT's Chief Minister must now provide immediate assurances that the abusive practices have ceased and that the young people who have been traumatised under the supervision of the government are receiving appropriate care and support.

"Detention is the option of absolute last resort for children, but in the NT we see detention rates significantly higher than in other parts of the country and increasing over the last decade. Most of those children are Aboriginal.

"Just as in the adult population, Aboriginal children are more likely to be arrested, detained, charged and sentenced than non-Aboriginal children. These children have often experienced abuse and trauma before entering the justice system."

The Greens spokesperson on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs, Senator Rachel Siewert, said:

"Abuse and neglect of children in youth detention in the Northern Territory is appalling and devastating, it will have lifelong impacts on these young people. It is highly likely that this is not an isolated incident and reflects a culture of detention in the Northern Territory. It is no wonder that we don't see progress in closing the gap in these circumstances.

"The Prime Minister's quick decision for a Royal Commission is welcome, but there must be wide terms of reference to determine the full extent of abuse. We also need strong processes for how the subsequent recommendations are implemented.

"The terms of reference must include full review of the NT Government and the responsible Minister. I'm deeply concerned that young people in detention are still being cared for by the same Government and prison officers who oversaw and were responsible for this appalling treatment."

Senator Di Natale added:

"The Greens support justice reinvestment because we will only make progress by investing in prevention. Prisons cannot be the only response to criminal behaviour.

"All governments in Australia must recommit to reducing the incarceration rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, both children and adults, and ensure there is a genuine plan for closing the disadvantage gap."


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