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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 | 24 The YJO staff informed investigators that they told the POs that A and B had played no part in the incident. They disclosed that they were afraid of the way they were going to be treated in the adult prison. The YJO staff stated that they witnessed the young persons being treated roughly and they understood the concerns of A and B. The A/GM advised investigators that he was of the opinion that once young persons were handed over to the prison they were no longer his responsibility, pursuant to Section 154 of the Juvenile Justice Act. He also said that he was not aware that spit hoods were used on the young persons on 21 August 2014, or on E when he was returned to Don Dale on 22 August 2014. He confirmed that he did not authorise their use and he would only ever authorise the use of a spit hood if a young person was spitting. He was not aware of anyone spitting during the incident. He further stated: I dont think there is an SOP14 on spit hoods, I think there should be, they are not very commonly applied but absolutely there should be some operational procedure. CCTV footage shows E was returned to Don Dale and placed in the admissions cell. The footage clearly shows E handcuffed behind his back with a hood still placed over his head. All of the YJO staff interviewed advised that they have received no training in the appropriate use of a spit hood. They were unaware of any policy or procedures governing the use of a spit hood, and most believed the hoods were only used on young persons who continually and routinely spit on staff. No YJO interviewed had witnessed E spit on staff. The use of handcuffs Section 155 of the Youth Justice Act states: Restraint devices may be used to escort certain detainees. The Superintendent of a detention centre may approve handcuffs or a similar device to restrain normal movement to be used when escorting a detainee outside the detention centre. YJO A told investigators that he received E from prison staff handcuffed behind his back and wearing the spit hood and that he placed him in the van and transported him back to Don Dale before removing the handcuffs and hood. He said that he did not why E had a spit hood placed over his head, because E is not known to spit on staff. YJO B further informed investigators that he did not 14 SOP refers to a standard operating procedure.

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