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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 | 30 Whilst it is acknowledged that any injury to staff is unacceptable, the injury occurred to the YJO due to a piece of aluminium being thrown through a broken window, set high in the wall. The injury was minor and did not require any immediate medical treatment. E did not have line of sight to the YJO and recklessly threw the piece of aluminium. The YJO involved has not pursued any assault charges. When it was found that entry (for the dog and its handler) could not be achieved through the basketball court door, it was incorrectly assumed that the door was barricaded. This assumption informed the subsequent decision-making process by Correctional Services staff. The A/GM was not aware that the threat of the use of a dog had been sufficient to cause E to attempt to surrender to staff in the store room area when he recommended the option of the use of gas to the Commissioner. The use of gas was subsequently authorised by the Commissioner on the recommendation of the A/GM, based on the A/GM becoming aware of the injury to the YJO. The A/GM was aware that the use of gas would mean that all the young persons locked in their cells would also be exposed. After the CS gas was sprayed, choking was heard by the A/GM and two YJOs. They entered the BMU without the necessary face masks to protect themselves from the effects of the gas, in order to extricate as quickly as possible the young persons who were still in their cells. When the GM contacted the on-call magistrate, he sought approval to transfer the young persons to the adult prison. This was despite two of them having not participated in the incident, and one of them being only 14 years of age. The on-call magistrate provided verbal authority to transfer five young persons to the adult prison, however, six young persons were transferred. The magistrate later provided written confirmation of the verbal authorisation to transfer five young persons to the adult prison. On arrival at the adult prison, a number of the young persons had spit hoods placed over their heads. Only one of the young persons had a history of spitting on staff. The next morning, E had a spit hood again placed over his head when he was returned to Don Dale from the adult prison. No-one questioned the efficacy of this action. The briefing made by the GM to senior management stated that all of the young persons in the BMU had blocked their cameras and that a YJO was injured after pursuing a detainee into the admissions office. This was inaccurate, and was provided to the Minister in a flash brief.

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