Jesuit Social Services welcomes the Federal Government’s announcement of the Royal Commission into the child protection and youth detention systems of the Northern Territory, following the ABC’s Four Corners investigation into the Don Dale Youth Detention Centre and its treatment of vulnerable young people.
“We have long advocated for better treatment for young people in the Northern Territory’s youth justice system and we are pleased this national shame has been put under the spotlight this week,” says Jesuit Social Services CEO Julie Edwards.
“The footage of young people being brutalized was horrific to see and we can only hope it leads to significant change and reform within the system.”
Jesuit Social Services is a signatory to the Change the Record coalition and is involved in Making Justice Work, a campaign that lobbies for evidence-based approaches to law and order in the Territory.
“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are over-represented in our criminal justice system and these figures are even starker when speaking about vulnerable children and young people, particularly in the Northern Territory,” says Ms Edwards.
“There is also a significant number of young people on remand in the Northern Territory.”
Jesuit Social Services calls for a more just and humane approach to youth justice by:
· Raising the age of criminal responsibility from 10 to 12 in line with UN recommendations;
· Ensuring detention is always used as a last resort and increasing diversionary approaches;
· Committing to funding and supporting Youth Justice Group Conferencing across the Territory, which aims to steer young people away from the criminal justice system and instead allow them to address the factors behind their offending.
“Ultimately, we all want safer communities and all evidence points to the fact that steering young people away from the criminal justice system wherever possible is the most effective way to achieve this.
“We look forward to making a submission to the Royal Commission and await its findings, which we hope will lead to positive, immediate and sustainable change to the Northern Territory youth justice system.”
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