• Dyllan Voller giving video evidence. (Royal Commission)
Dylan Voller gave video evidence to the Darwin sitting of the Northern Territory Royal Commission into Youth Justice. He told the hearing he hoped "some sort of justice" would come from the royal commission, so that what happened to him does not happen again.
By
Tim Dornin, John Hayes Bell

Source:
AAP, SBS News
20 Apr 2017 - 7:35 PM  UPDATED 20 Apr 2017 - 8:02 PM

Former detainee Dylan Voller was flanked by supporters in Alice Springs when he arrived to give video evidence to the Darwin sitting of the Northern Territory Royal Commission into Youth Justice.

The nineteen year old said he wanted to take part in the royal commission into the Northern Territory's juvenile justice system to help prevent others receiving the treatment he endured in detention.

"I don't want any other young person to go through what I've gone through," Voller said at the conclusion of his evidence on Thursday.

"A lot of other young people, just like myself, have had bad upbringings, bad behavioural problems.

"But locking them away, being bashed or being harassed and being slammed - nothing justifies that.

"If we walked up and did it on the street ...we'd be put in prison."

Voller arrived to the session accompanied by his mentor and advisor, former National Rugby League player Joe Williams.

Joe told the ABC, Dylan "is growing as a young man. He's becoming more resilient every day you know. He's learning to walk a good path.

"My role in everything is about him moving forward, about him hopefully making better choices and becoming a better young man in the future," he said.

Today, Voller was questioned by the Territory's counsel Sonia Brownhill, who examined his childhood, marked by behavioural issues and juvenile crime. A series of offences led to Voller being held in custody from late 2009, when he was only 11 years old.

Voller faced claims that as a boy he was verbally and physically aggressive, and had a volatile relationship with his mother, teachers and classmates.

Ms Brownhill questioned Voller about his violent behaviour in school, and about a specific in which he supposedly attacked another student.

"The last time you were suspended was because you assaulted a fellow student. You punched him in the head do you agree or disagree with that?,” she asked.

"That didn't happen but I got expelled for that," Voller replied.

Voller's counsel, Peter O'Brien, argued that some of the detailed questions asked by the NT government counsel during the interrogation, which included queries over incidents of deliberate urination and defecation, were unnecessary.

But Ms Brownhill insisted such questions were necessary, “to understand his behaviour and the extreme nature of that behaviour".

Voller was jailed in 2014 for a violent, ice-fuelled crime spree but was granted bail in February to begin rehabilitation, months before his planned release in October.

The NT royal commission into juvenile justice was sparked last year when footage of youth inmates, including Voller, being tear-gassed, spit-hooded and shackled was aired on ABC Television.

Voller told the hearing in Darwin that he hoped "some sort of justice" would come from the royal commission so that what happened to him did not happen again.

He also offered his thoughts on what a juvenile detention facility should look like.

He said there was a need for detention but it should include more access to counsellors and mental health professionals.

Voller called for more rehabilitation programs and for those programs to continue after inmates were released.

"To help them get accommodation, to help them get jobs once they're out," he said.

"Not just chuck them out the gate and off you go, back into the world."

This sentiment was echoed by Joe Williams.

"Young people when they're incarcerated and locked up they should be rehabilitated. Their time inside is crucial, and it's about them growing as people as well," he said. 

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The 19-year-old said guards in the detention system should try to talk more to inmates.

"Actually sit down and take the time to talk to us about our emotions, if we've got family problems," he said.

"Just give us that attention that most of us young fellas need, just to have a role model to be able to talk to."

Earlier, Michael Hughes and Darren Foreman, two correctional staff involved with restraining Voller, gave evidence about their lack of an understanding of how juveniles in an adult facility should be treated.

Hughes said he was responsible for placing a spit hood over Voller's head, but had no recollection of the teenager claiming he was choking.

However, the pair agreed Voller had been in the restraint chair up to two hours.

The Commission's final report is expected in August.

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