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Own initiative investigation report : services provided by the Department of Correctional Services at the Don Dale Youth Detention Centre



Own initiative investigation report : services provided by the Department of Correctional Services at the Don Dale Youth Detention Centre

Other title

Report to the Minister


E-Publications; PublicationNT; E-Books




Made available via the Publications (Legal Deposit) Act 2004 (NT).; The decision to conduct this self-initiated investigation was made by the former Children’s Commissioner, Dr Howard Bath, and was based on events that occurred at the Don Dale Youth Detention Centre (‘Don Dale’) in the Behaviour Management Unit (‘BMU’) between 4 and 21 August 2014. This investigation was conducted in accordance with Section 10(1)(a)(ii) of the Children’s Commissioner Act 2013 (the Act) which allows the Commissioner, on his own initiative, to investigate a matter which may form the grounds for a complaint.


"Dear Minister. In accordance with section 43(2) of the Children's Commissioner Act 2013, I provide you with my final own initiative investigation based on events that occurred at the Don Dale Youth Detention Centre in the Behavius Management Unit between 4 and 21 August 2014'. p. 1.

Table of contents

Jurisdiction -- Formalities -- Background to investigation -- Process of investigation -- Investigation issues: issue 1; The decisions made and actions taken by Correctional Service staff at Don Dale in relation to young persons confined within the BMU on 21 August 2014 -- Issue 1 Findings -- Issue 2: The period of time young persons were confined within the BMU and the purpose of this procedure -- Issue 2 Findings -- Issue 3: The access young persons have had in regard to making a complaint to the Children’s Commissioner -- Issue 3 Findings -- Issue 4: The access young persons had to external service providers when confined within the BMU -- Issue 4 Findings -- Issue 5: The provisions in place to ensure the emotional and psychological welfare of young persons in the BMU -- Issue 5 Findings -- Issue 6: The contact young persons housed within the BMU have had with family members -- Issue 6 Findings -- Issue 7: The supervision and monitoring provided to the young persons whilst they were accommodated within the BMU -- Issue 7 Findings -- Recommendations -- Departmental response. -- Attachment A & B




Juvenile detention homes -- Northern Territory -- Darwin Region; Juvenile delinquents -- Rehabilitation -- Northern Territory

Publisher name

Northern Territory. Office of the Children's Commissioner

Place of publication

Casuarina (N.T.)


52 pages : illustrations, plans ; 30 cm.

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P a g e | 10 Correctional Services staff say they were concerned that these young persons would attempt a further escape and the only secure area was the BMU, until a more suitable alternative was identified. Young person C BMU cell 1 C was not involved in the escape. He was initially placed in the BMU on 15 August 2014 on a 24-hour security placement, as a result of threatening behaviour towards a YJO, as well as an allegation that he spat on the Acting General Manager (A/GM) of Don Dale. This action was ostensibly taken by Correctional Services in accordance with provisions contained in the Youth Justice Act which authorises isolation in certain circumstances: Section 153 (5) of the Youth Justice Act states: If the superintendent is of the opinion that a detainee should be isolated from other detainees: (a) to protect the safety of another person; or (b) for the good order or security of the detention centre, the superintendent may isolate the detainee for a period not exceeding 24 hours or, with the approval of the Commissioner, not exceeding 72 hours. A review of Correctional Services records show that within the first five hours of C being placed in the BMU, the Commissioner of Correctional Services authorised a 72-hour placement. C was not released after the 72-hour placement and, instead, a management regime was put in place. However, this did not occur until approximately two days after the authorised period of isolation had expired. This is a breach of the Youth Justice Act which clearly states the placement must not exceed 72 hours. Young person D and young person F BMU cell 2 Both D and F were involved in the escape. F was placed in the BMU on 4 August 2014 and D on 6 August 2014. Young person E BMU cell 3 E was involved in the escape and placed in the BMU on 6 August 2014.

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