The shocking scenes from the Don Dale Juvenile Detention Centre in the Northern Territory which screened on Four Corners (ABC-TV) this week must be responded to with a National Royal Commission, according to the Aboriginal Legal Service of WA (ALSWA).
“The images which flashed across our screen were barbaric and shameful and it is incredibly disturbing to know that the lives of these young people have been violated in such a horrific way” said ALSWA CEO Dennis Eggington.
ALSWA said that as shocking as these images were, the sad reality was that these were not isolated incidents.
“The 2013 so-called ‘riot’ at Perth’s Banksia Hill Detention Juvenile Centre, followed by the transfer of juveniles to the adult jail at Hakea, confirmed what we had known for some time from our young clients – lockdowns for 23 hours, the use of solitary confinement to manage detainees, unbearably hot cells, the excessive use of strip searches, a lack of educational and rehabilitation programs, the unnecessary shackling of detainees – this is the way WA has treated some of the most damaged and vulnerable young people in the community”.
ALSWA believes that the Royal Commission must cover all State and Territory jurisdictions, including WA. Only then, will there be any prospect of repairing and changing a broken system.
“There must be a national focus to ensure that what happened at Don Dale is never repeated anywhere ever again”.
“The inhumane treatment of Ms. Dhu by police, as she faced an agonizing death in a police cell in the South Hedland Police lock up, further highlights the need for a national focus on the incarceration of Aboriginal people in this country. If Australia truly values the humanity of its First Nations people, this is an opportunity that cannot be missed. Now is the time to act and if we don’t, the atrocities committed in the name of juvenile justice at Don Dale are destined to be repeated again and again on Aboriginal kids” said Mr. Eggington.