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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

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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 | 23 transferees to be 15 years or older. All other parts of the provision were complied with by Correctional Services. On 22 August 2014, Correctional Services became aware that E was being held unlawfully in the Darwin Correctional Centre (DCC). At 9:53 am that morning, Correctional Services Executive Director (ED A) sent the following e-mail to senior management: It has come to our attention that young person E is being held unlawfully at DCC as he is under the age of 15. (Magistrate A) has been advised and she stressed she was unaware of this last night when we sought her approval to place them at DCC. This is no doubt an oversight. (The GM and the A/GM) are organising his transfer back to DD where he will be held in a single cell under strict supervision and then transferred to CBU at the earliest possible time. The GM advised investigators that he was not aware that E was only 14 years of age when he was transferred to the prison. He was also unable to provide an explanation as to why six young persons were transferred to the prison when the magistrates e-mail clearly authorised the transfer of only five young persons. He conceded that it was an oversight by him. A preliminary medical assessment conducted on the young persons following their transfer to the adult prison showed there to be no medical concerns or injuries resulting from the incident. All young persons were housed in B Block, which is the maximum security section of the adult prison. Despite direct questioning of all staff present or involved in the incident, no explanation was provided to investigators why young persons A and B were transferred to the adult prison. Neither participated in the incident, or failed to comply with directions given by the YJO staff during the course of the incident, and this was known to staff throughout the incident. The A/GM confirmed at interview that he was fully aware they didnt participate in the incident, were compliant throughout and appeared genuinely scared. Despite this, he did not consider it relevant to whether they should or should not be transferred to the adult prison. The use of spit hoods YJO A told investigators he accompanied the young persons to the prison and observed the POs place spit hoods on them when they arrived. He did not know why this occurred because C is the only young person known to spit.

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