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Joint Statement: Rights of Children in the NT

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice
Content type: Media Release
Topic(s): Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice / Indigenous Social Justice, Children

Australia’s National Children’s Commissioner Anne Hollonds and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner June Oscar AO have urged the Northern Territory government to reconsider its proposals for youth offending, announced yesterday.

The NT Government yesterday said it would put in "automatic revocation of bail" for young people who reoffend or breach their bail conditions.

The Commission supports the recommendations of the Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory.

“Prison is no place for children. This approach will only perpetuate the cycle of trauma and youth offending,” said June Oscar.

“The Northern Territory Royal Commission made concrete recommendations around prevention and early intervention supports for children and investment in diversionary pathways away from the criminal justice system and child protection. We cannot go back to the way things were.

“We need to invest in trauma-informed support for children and their families that addresses the systemic issues of poverty, disadvantage and intergenerational trauma that lead to these problems.

“The NT Royal Commission recommendations contain the solutions to these issues. I urge the government to work with communities to implement these rather than giving up on our young people.”

National Children’s Commissioner Anne Hollonds said, “It is essential that we consider the best interests of children – and their interests are not served by being incarcerated. Evidence shows that incarceration sets children up for a lifetime of poor outcomes and creates significant additional costs for the community.

“The NT government’s proposals for electronic monitoring of children are not consistent with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, neither is bail revocation.

“Children need non-custodial options and the NT Royal Commission was quite clear in its recommendations that children should not be remanded in detention. It also recommended that the age of criminal responsibility should be raised.

“There is a large body of evidence showing that reactionary ‘get tough’ methods such as  incarceration of children, and overly strict bail legislation, are ineffective in reducing recidivism. We must invest in evidence-informed diversionary programs and also address the systemic problems of poverty, inadequate housing, and intergenerational trauma affecting the families of these children and young people.”   

The Wiyi Yani U Thangani report and community guide are available to download from the Commission’s website Full implementation of the recommendations of the NT Royal Commission is a priority action in the report.

You can read the recommendations of the NT Royal Commission here.