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 | 4 The complainants concerns were initially raised with the Commissioner of the Northern Territory Department of Correctional Services (Correctional Services) and a written response was provided on 14 August 2014. Correctional Services response did nothing to reassure the complainant of the young persons wellbeing. On 20 August 2014, the complainant lodged a complaint with this office, and provided a copy of the Commissioners letter of response. On 22 August 2014, two days after becoming aware of the concerns, Dr Bath was contacted by Correctional Services, who informed him that there had been a critical incident within the BMU and that a number of young persons had armed themselves with weapons and had tried to escape. He was further advised that the young persons had caused significant damage to detention centre property and that the only way to return any form of order was to use CS gas7, and the prison security dog from the Darwin Correctional Centre. On 22 August 2014, Dr Bath attended Don Dale to assess the welfare of the young persons, and also to inspect the conditions and damage allegedly caused to the BMU. During this visit he confirmed that there had been six young persons confined to the BMU, prior to and during the incident of 21 August 2014. These events were widely reported in local, national and international news broadcasting services. Some of the comments made by the Commissioner of Correctional Services appeared in the media as follows: That the use of tear gas was the safest option for staff and detainees because the boys had refused instructions to put down their weapons and lie on the floor; The youths threatened staff with weapons fashioned out of smashed dinner plates, light fittings and windows; Were really not able to hold these young fellows who are quite violent; At least one detainee had armed himself with a fire extinguisher; They were interested in smashing the facility and unfortunately other detainees were starting to get involved, belting doors, banging doors; When these things happen the most appropriate action is to use a small bit of chemical; It was the first time in his seven years in the Territory that tear gas was used to quell detainees at the centre; and The young persons were given directions to lay down the weapons and lay on the floor. They refused. In fact they had barricaded one of the two exits which made it hard for us to get into the facility. 7 Orthochlorobenzalmalononitrile, commonly known as CS gas. See NTCS Directive 2.2.2 Use of Chemical Agents, issued 9 December 2008.

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.