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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 | 35 from Youth Detention, he has escaped from the Police and he has escaped from the court so it is certainly something to take seriously in relation to, and given doors had been kicked open and continue to be kicked open, so what happened was essentially proof of the pudding of what we had been working on for more than the last year in terms of saying that the infrastructure at Don Dale had reached its use by date in terms of containing the older cohort. When you manage a Youth Detention Centre it is all about public safety, you have to weigh it all up. In order to keep a cell empty and available for use if required, two further young persons were housed in a single cell therefore, four young persons were placed two to a cell, and two other cells held one young person each. This resulted in two young persons sleeping on a mattress on the floor in two of the cells. 25 Despite the fact that four of the young persons were sharing cells, all of the young persons were segregated from the main population and confined to a cell with no running water, natural ventilation or natural light for at least 22 hours per day. The United Nations General Assembly report on Torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment26, in part states: For the purposes of this report, the Special Rapporteur defines solitary confinement as the physical and social isolation of individuals who are confined to their cells for 22 to 24 hours a day. Of particular concern to the Special Rapporteur is prolonged solitary confinement, which he defines as any period of solitary confinement in excess of 15 days. He is aware of the arbitrary nature of the effort to establish a moment in time which an already harmful regime becomes prolonged and therefore unacceptably painful. He concludes that 15 days is the limit between solitary confinement and prolonged solitary confinement because at that point, according to the literature surveyed, some of the harmful psychological effects of isolation can become irreversible. 27 In 1990, the General Assembly adopted resolution 45/113, the United Nations Rules for the Protection of Juveniles Deprived of their Liberty. In paragraph 67 the Assembly asserted that All disciplinary measures constituting cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment shall be strictly prohibited, including ... solitary confinement or any other punishment that may compromise the physical or mental health of the juvenile concerned 28 . In relation to physical conditions in solitary confinement the report stated: The presence of windows and light is also of critical importance to the adequate treatment of detainees in solitary confinement. Under rule 11 of the Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, there should be sufficient light to 25 BMU cells 2 and 4. 26 Dated 5 August 2011, and which applies in principle to Don Dale 27 UN Report p.9. 28 UN Report p.9

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