THE HON TANYA PLIBERSEK MP
ACTING LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION
SHADOW MINISTER FOR EDUCATION
SHADOW MINISTER FOR WOMEN
MEMBER FOR SYDNEY
THE HON MARK DREYFUS QC MP
SHADOW MINISTER FOR NATIONAL SECURITY
MEMBER FOR ISAACS
SENATOR PATRICK DODSON
SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR INDIGENOUS AFFAIRS AND
ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDERS
SENATOR FOR WESTERN AUSTRALIA
THE HON WARREN SNOWDON MP
SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR NORTHERN AUSTRALIA
MEMBER FOR LINGIARI
ROYAL COMMISSION INTO NORTHERN TERRITORY JUVENILE DETENTION SYSTEM
All Australians would be sickened by video footage of shocking abuse of children in the Northern Territory juvenile detention system, revealed on the ABC’s Four Corners program last night.
The violent attacks on children by guards, the use of tear gas, extended periods of solitary confinement, and the use of extreme restraining devices is completely appalling.
It is beyond belief that this could have occurred in a country like Australia. The perpetrators should immediately face the full force of the law. And this abhorrent conduct should never, ever be allowed to happen again.
Federal Labor supports the Government’s announcement this morning of a Royal Commission.
It is now evident that the abuse of young prisoners at the Don Dale Juvenile Detention Centre in Darwin in 2014 was not an isolated incident, but that systemic problems are spread far more widely throughout the Territory’s prison system. A far-ranging inquiry is clearly now necessary.
Federal Labor will cooperate fully with the Government to establish a Royal Commission as soon as possible. We stand ready to work with the Government on the Terms of Reference of the Commission, which should not be limited to the incidents at Don Dale but should include systemic issues in the juvenile justice system.
As a matter of urgency, the Northern Territory Government must provide assurances that serious action has been taken to ensure the practices documented by Four Corners are no longer occurring anywhere in the Territory, and that the children shown in last night’s episode are no longer in danger.
There has been a gross dereliction of duty of care, and a disturbing failure of previous inquiries to make change. Permanent reform is necessary to ensure such abuse never happens again.
Last night’s program also reminded us of the shameful state of Indigenous incarceration in Australia – particularly for Indigenous youth. This must become an urgent matter for the Council of Australian Governments – as Labor has previously called for.
Labor also calls on the Turnbull Government to reconsider its rejection of national targets to reduce Indigenous incarceration and improve community safety under the Closing the Gap framework.