Royal Commission provides an opportunity to fix a broken system

MEDIA RELEASE - 26.07.16

The Change the Record (CTR) Coalition today called for an urgent rethink of the justice system, following last night’s ABC Four Corners story which revealed cruel, degrading and inhumane treatment of children in a NT juvenile detention facility.

 

CTR Co-Chair Shane Duffy said, "The footage aired in last night's Four Corner's episode is beyond horrific. It highlights that this is not just an isolated incident, the system is broken and we are at a crisis point”.

 

The CTR Coalition welcomes the Prime Minister’s announcement this morning of the establishment of a Royal Commission to investigate systemic abuse at the Don Dale detention facility and is calling for Federal leadership to change the record on the over-imprisonment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the justice system.

 

“Prime Minister Turnbull’s comittment to establish a Royal Commission to expose the horrific incidences of abuse at Don Dale is a welcome first step. It is vital that that those responsible are held to account and that systemic failings are documented and reported back on quickly”.

“It is also imperative that the terms of reference for the Royal Commission are developed in consultation with the youth justice sector, and that the Federal Government commits to implement all of the recommendations” said Mr Duffy.

 

The Royal Commission should examine whether these incidences of abuse are more widespread throughout the NT, and the reasons behind the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people in juvenile detention facilities across the country. Nationally, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people are 24 times more likely to be  imprisoned than their non-Indigenous youth.

 

The CTR Coalition is also calling for the Australian Government to immediately ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture (OPCAT). This would ensure independent monitoring of all places of detention - including youth detention facilities.

 

“We shouldn’t be waiting until an inquiry is completed to take steps to prevent to abuse of vulnerable children. OPCAT would provide an important safeguard to protect to the human rights of children, and the Federal Government should act to ratify OPCAT without delay” said Mr Duffy.

 

The Change the Record Campaign has developed a Blueprint for Change, which provides a critical roadmap for Government to reduce imprisonment and violence rates.

 

“It’s time for national leadership to fix our broken justice system - the Prime Minister really needs to step up to the plate and prioritise this issue.”

 

“We urgently need an intergovernmental approach to reducing incarceration and violence rates, with specific strategies targeted at women and children. This should include a focus on funding of diversion and early intervention programs, and the establishment of meaningful justice targets.” Mr Duffy.

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Media Contact: Shannon Longhurst for Shane Duffy - ph: 0409 711 061 / shannon@changetherecord.org.au