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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 | 27 This factually incorrect information was later included in a flash brief provided to the Minister. Inaccurate information supplied to police During the investigation, police stated that a report was made to them five hours after the incident containing the following information: five detainees had escaped their cells, caused significant damage and assaulted staff with shards of glass, bricks and steel poles. Review of the Northern Territory Youth Detention System Report, January 2015 The Department of Correctional Services commenced a review in November 2014, which was conducted by Mr Michael Vita. It extended to a review of Correctional Services existing operations and practices. The review report was released publicly on 18 February 2015. The Vita review reported, inter alia: there is evidence that poor management including poor supervision and poor record keeping has also contributed to the lead up and aftermath of some incidents, including a disturbance at Don Dale where intelligence had been received that it had been planned, however, this information did not get passed on to the appropriate staff. 18 In instances where incidents were not managed well, either in their lead up or during the incident itself, material made available to the reviewer indicated some additional common patterns as contributing factors including: 19 poor supervision lack of experienced staff lack of training especially in crisis management and behaviour management poor communication and relay of intelligence information lack of appropriate direction and procedures sloppy security awareness the lock on detainee Rs door in the BMU on 21 August 2014 was not closed off. Ultimately leading to his escape from his room and escalating the disturbance itself immature responses by some staff to detainee behaviour lack of comprehensive structured day, which includes elements of work, programming, recreation, cleanliness, hygiene and schooling inadequate infrastructure and equipment. 18 Review of the Northern Territory Youth Detention System Report. January 2015. p.50. 19 ibid. p.55.

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