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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 | 44 The United Nations General Assembly report on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment36 in relation to the latent effects of solitary confinement states: There is a lack of research into the latent effects of solitary confinement. While the acute effects of solitary confinement generally recede after the period of solitary confinement ends, some of the negative health effects are long term. The minimal stimulation experienced during solitary confinement can lead to a decline in brain activity in individuals after seven days. One study found that up to seven days, the [brain activity] decline is reversible, but if deprived over a long period this may not be the case. Studies have found continued sleep disturbances, depression, anxiety, phobias, emotional dependence, confusion, impaired memory and concentration long after the release from isolation. Additionally, lasting personality changes often leave individuals formerly held in solitary confinement socially impoverished and withdrawn, subtly angry and fearful when forced into social interaction. Intolerance of social interaction after a period of solitary confinement is a handicap that often prevents individuals from successfully readjusting to life within the broader prison population and severely impairs their capacity to reintegrate into society when released from imprisonment. 37 Issue 5: Findings The conditions in the BMU in August 2014 were well below acceptable standards. There was no access to natural light, drinking water, or programs to address rehabilitation or perceived behavioural issues. Rehabilitation is a key factor in the Youth Justice Act38, and a denial of any program due to behavioural issues is nothing short of counter-productive. The Youth Justice Act places a positive obligation upon the Superintendent of Don Dale to: promote programs to assist and organise activities of detainees to enhance their wellbing and must encourage the social development and improvement of the welfare of detainees.39 Issue 6: The contact young persons housed within the BMU have had with family members YJO staff told investigators that the young persons were permitted telephone calls and family visits, however not all of them had family visits. If the behaviour or demeanour of the young persons made it unsafe to allow them out of their cell, then visits or telephone calls were delayed or cancelled. 36 Dated 5 August 2011 37 Ibid. p18. 38 Section 3 (e), s 4 (n), s 81 (4), and more particulary s 151 (2) & (3) (a) 39 Ibid, s 151 (3) (a) & (b)

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