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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 | 26 techniques, the use of handcuffs and a brief overview regarding the restrictions on the use of force contained in the Youth Justice Act. YJO staff complete some on-thejob training in the form of shadow shifts when they are first employed, but subsequently must rely on directions from senior YJOs or shift supervisors. It has been identified that there is no formal training required (or provided) to progress from YJO to a senior YJO, or to progress from a senior YJO to a shift supervisor. All YJO staff advised that they had received no training in critical incidents or methods to verbally de-escalate the type of incident that occurred on 21 August 2014. The staff did not feel equipped to safely resolve these types of incidents and were concerned they have not been provided with adequate personal protection equipment. As a result, they were required to resort to improvised protection such as mattresses, training pads and cobweb brooms. After the young persons were transferred to the adult prison, a debrief occurred which involved all YJO staff and the three POs present during the incident. The Commissioner spoke and thanked the staff for their actions and assured them that he would support them. There was no critical discussion regarding what worked well and what could have been done better. All YJO staff agreed this would have been beneficial with respect to future incidents. The A/GM told investigators that the debrief was not intended to be a back patting exercise, as he believed the incident was not a good situation. He stated: we lost control of a high security area, used chemical agents, and staff were injured. Even though the injury was minor it could have been a lot worse. Information provided to executive management At 11.54 p.m. on 21 August 2014, the GM sent an e-mail to the Commissioner and the Executive Director, which contained a timeline of the events that had occurred, stating in part: 1730 All (emphasis added) detainees became disruptive and non-compliant blocking their cameras. C broke his plate and was abusive and threatening to staff. 2025 E broke out of his cell, not clear how cell was compromised. He began smashing windows and passing glass and debris through the bars to other detainees to use as weapons. Code amber called, E broke out of BMU into admissions receptions area. He was pursued by (SS A and YJO D) E threw a piece of aluminium at (YJO D) striking and cutting his arm. It was unsafe for officers to engage E. (emphasis added)

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