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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 | 28 The Vita Review identified The BMU at Don Dale was not designed to house young persons for extended periods The communication with the young persons was insufficient as they became agitated as they were unaware of the length of their detention in the BMU Staff not adequately trained to effectively manage critical incidents including negotiation training and risk assessments where young persons are displaying aggressive and threatening behaviours The failure to lock a cell door provided the opportunity for a young person to leave his cell and for the incident to escalate The lack of communication between personnel involved resulted in the incident Commander making decisions and taking action without being appraised of all of the facts The use of CS gas on juveniles held in detention under the provisions of the Youth Justice Act is violent and involves the dosing of a chemical substance, therefore it is not reasonably necessary as prescribed by s 153 (3) of the Youth Justice Act The investigation has determined that the force used was unnecessary and in contravention of s 153 (2) of the Youth Justice Act. After viewing all of the material provided, the then Childrens Commissioner determined that the young persons suffered harm as a result of being exposed to CS gas and a mandatory report as prescribed by s 26 of the Care and Protection of Children Act was required The inaccurate internal reporting resulted in incorrect information being provided to other sources An underage young person was held without lawful authority at the prison from 9.38 p.m. on 21 August 2014 to approximately 9.55 a.m. on 22 August 2014 Lawful authority was not provided by the Magistrate to transfer all six of the young persons to the prison on 21 August 2014 Don Dale does not have policies or procedures in place relating to the justification and use of spit hoods

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