Senator Rachel Siewert said today after visiting Darwin this week that it is clear that the NT Government blindsided stakeholders and the community when it rammed through changes to youth justice laws that go against recommendations of the Royal Commission.
“I’ve been in Darwin this week and key stakeholders have been blindsided by this legislation and didn’t know about the changes to youth justice that go against the findings of the Royal Commission until a day before it was rushed through," Senator Rachel Siewert said.
“The community and First Nations stakeholders have to be front and centre if we are going to address the crisis in First Nations incarceration, instead they were by-passed by the NT Government so they can cover themselves.
“What is the NT Government trying to cover up in rushing through retrospective legislation that is contrary to the Royal Commission recommendations?
“This doesn’t just ring alarm bells, it’s a wailing siren.
“We need to get to the heart of the issue and that is that children should not be locked up in the first place.
“We have to address the underlying issues of poverty, disadvantage and trauma.
"Otherwise we will never see the end of the cycle of incarceration of First Nations peoples.
“There are therapeutic approaches across the world that we should be looking to including diversion, ensuring care plans are in place, facilities with staff trained in therapeutic approaches, deescalation and a rehabilitative rather than punitive approach.
“It’s outrageous that the Commonwealth Government has failed to commit to help fund the Royal Commission recommendations.
“The issues we are seeing in the NT relating to youth, early intervention and policing need to be addressed Australia wide, this is not just a Northern Territory issue.
“The Commonwealth Government needs to shape up, show leadership and commit to funding the recommendations of the Royal Commission, we don’t want all the effort to have been for nothing.”
Lucy Cowcher-Guthrie: 0418 401 180