Territory Stories

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.

File type


Copyright owner

Check within Publication or with content Publisher.

Related links


Parent handle


Citation address


Related items


Page content

P a g e | 39 It is evident from reviewing current IMPs that the previous recommendations made by this Office have not been implemented. A further document obtained during the investigation appears to apply to Don Dale. In 2009 the Australasian Juvenile Justice Administrators published a document entitled Juvenile Justice Standards 2009. The standards specificially refer to the Youth Justice Act 2006 (NT). Clause 9 discusses security, in terms of: detaining children in a safe and secure environment that is developmentally appropriate and provides community safety. 9.5 Separation or isolation of a child or young person is used only in response to an unacceptable risk of immediate harm, escape and or in accordance with legislation and is used for the minimum amount of time. Clause 9.5 clearly states that legislative requirements are to be given primacy, and time is to be kept to a minimum. This did not occur in relation to these young persons. The young persons were housed in the BMU under strict management conditions, including long periods of isolation locked in their cells, from the time of their return to custody until 13 or 14 August 2014 without an approved IMP or management regime. The management regimes implemented for all six of the young persons housed in the BMU were essentially identical to each other, including the same spelling and grammatical errors. It is clear that one template was used for each young person, without any individualisation for their particular circumstances. They were compiled by the A/GM without input from the young persons case workers or other relevant stakeholders. There were no parts of the IMPs addressing the individual behaviour triggers for each individual young persons. The Vita report made the following findings, with which this Office concurs: Behaviour Management Plans should be individualised and contain clear reasoning for their implementation and conditions. The plans should be signed off by all stakeholders as, [t]his will provide transparency in the process and get away from a single sign off by the custodial person alone. This will also prove a consultative approach to external agencies who may question the plans origins and/or expertise. 31 The Vita review further reported: The physical infrastructure in the Don Dale Behaviour Management Unit was poor and not conducive to being able to separate and manage detainees on plans satisfactorily. This no doubt contributed to many incidents in that location, however 31 Vita report p.41.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are advised that this website may contain the names, voices and images of people who have died, as well as other culturally sensitive content. Please be aware that some collection items may use outdated phrases or words which reflect the attitude of the creator at the time, and are now considered offensive.

We use temporary cookies on this site to provide functionality.
By continuing to use this site without changing your settings, you consent to our use of cookies.