Territory Stories

Debates Day 2 - Wednesday 17 May 1995



Debates Day 2 - Wednesday 17 May 1995

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Parliamentary Record 10


Debates for 7th Assembly 1994 - 1997; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 7th Assembly 1994 - 1997




Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory





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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory

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Attribution International 4.0 (CC BY 4.0)

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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory



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DEBATES - Wednesday 17 May 1995 us with that clarification. I hope he will, otherwise we will probably vote against the bill. I believe he has the goods. The minister and his staff explained to me that the isolation factor was a very long way removed from the traditional concept of solitary confinement. In fact, these young offenders are removed, as the bill states, for the protection of detainees and the protection of employees etc. The offenders are not necessarily alone. They have periods of contact with staff very frequently and they continue with their studies, their recreation periods etc. It is probably rather like a child at school being isolated because they have been a little troublesome or have been disturbing other children. They continue with lessons, but their interaction with the other students is minimised. They have interaction basically only with the staff. However, as we have seen, the amendment allows for a much longer time span. It is extended from 12 hours to a possible maximum of 72 hours - 3 days. For that reason, I have asked the minister to provide the definition of isolation in order to provide some comfort for people. Whilst the circumstances that were described to me seemed very reasonable and justifiable, without something either in the legislation or provided for in the record of the Assembly, to say exactly what the conditions are under which this isolation is to be imposed, and for how long, I believe there is opportunity for abuse and clearly none of us wants to see that. With those provisos, the opposition supports the bill, mindful that we really need to keep a check on how these measures work. The bill also has removed the requirement of a separate report on juvenile offences. These will be dealt with now in the annual report of the Department of Correctional Services, and I will be keeping a careful eye on that to see exactly what the results of these new measures are. In relation generally to the business of juvenile detention, the opposition has some serious concerns about the case that occurred recently in Alice Springs, and the fact that there is no longer a juvenile detention centre in Alice Springs. Some of the reasons for the closure of Giles House were not well founded, and we see that some of the juvenile offenders have now to be removed a long way from their homes when they are placed in the Don Dale Centre at Berrimah. While the minister may say that these young offenders very rarely, if ever, have had visitors, that is not necessarily the whole point. They are obviously out of their own country, away from the people they know and in somebody elses country. That is an important issue when one considers that, unfortunately, the majority of these young offenders are Aboriginal children. The fact that they are alienated and removed from their normal background and experience is something that the opposition is not happy with. There are some issues with regard to the holding of juveniles at this time in Alice Springs which we believe are far from satisfactory. The Leader of the Opposition will allude to those. Having said that, the opposition supports the thrust of the bill, with the proviso that the minister comment on the isolation factor and the length of time and the conditions pertaining thereto. Mr EDE (Opposition Leader): Mr Speaker, the member for Barkly said that Alice Springs did not have a juvenile detention centre. That was my view until some weeks ago when the minister responsible for this legislation and I were invited to attend a meeting of the Police Association in Alice Springs. The minister declined. I took up the offer and, subsequent to the meeting, the police took me to look at some of the equipment they have, the 3299

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