• Malarndirri McCarthy (Malarndirri McCarthy photo)Source: Malarndirri McCarthy photo
Northern Territory Senator Malarndirri McCarthy has called Adam Giles a failed Chief Minister, telling NITV in an exclusive interview that he has not only failed the young people of the Northern Territory but also everyone else.
Laura Morelli

27 Jul 2016 - 5:15 PM  UPDATED 28 Jul 2016 - 1:10 PM

It comes after shocking footage of the abusive treatment of young people in a Northern Territory juvenile detention centre on ABC’s Four Corners program caused public outrage.

McCarthy says Giles has failed to act as he should have done and stop the inhumane practice immediately in 2014, when the vision actually took place.

"Adam Giles has failed in his role as a leader, he has failed the NT children and he is a man in serious trouble."

"He did not do what he should have done as a leader and insisted on seeing that video in the full context of what it was. He failed to listen to the reports of his own Children’s Commissioner… the Indigenous legal organisation and other legal advocates. He has failed the people of the NT.”

Her comments come after Mr Giles tried to shift the blame, by saying some of the violence towards juveniles happened under the previous Labor government, and he is now is pushing for the terms of reference to include his political opponents.

"The new senator for the Labor Party in the Northern Territory [Malarndirri] Barb McCarthy… was the Child Protection Minister at the time of the five most horrific events that were on the Four Corners episode, she won't take responsibility," Mr Giles said.

"Kevin Rudd was the prime minister, so was Julia Gillard during this time; none of those guys have stood up and taken responsibility" he said.

Some of Mr Giles comments to the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly in October 2010 have also come to light today highlighting his tough approach to law and order.  

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has announced he will establish a Royal Commission into the Northern Territory's juvenile detention centres and the Federal Government wants it to start in just over a month. McCarthy says any Commission should focus first on the people of the Northern Territory. 

“The Royal Commission should be about the people in the Northern Territory and the juvenile justice system. To give confidence back to those who work in the justice system and confidence back to the people of the Northern Territory, that their young people will be rehabilitated appropriately once they’re in the justice system not brutalised as we’ve seen this week."

"My concern is for the people of the Northern Territory and those youth in the Don Dale centre. We need to act with great urgency and that must mean focusing on the people of the Northern Territory right now.”

McCarthy argued that there has to be a bipartisan approach to the Royal Commission.

“The Prime Minister should listen to Aboriginal organisations and the Children’s Commissioner here in the Northern Territory about what those terms of reference should be. I hold absolute faith in a Royal Commission if it is bipartisan from the very beginning, through the process and through to recommendations being implemented.”

"Any child regardless of their race, any child in this country should feel safe and respected in terms of their dignity as a human being."

The Four Corners report contained graphic footage of prison guards stripping, assaulting and mistreating teenage boys. Six inmates were also tear-gassed, some while still locked in their cells at the Don Dale Youth Detention Centre in Darwin in 2014. The footage aired on Four Corners has sparked international outrage and McCarthy has described it as disturbing. She says she wants to make sure children are treated with respect. 

“I think the absence of seeing more Aboriginal families speaking about their children was very concerning as well. The fact that we're looking at Indigenous children at youth detention centres, of course race has played an important part in this, a disturbing part in this, but let’s remember that any child regardless of their race, any child in this country should feel safe and respected in terms of their dignity as a human being, to be encouraged to go on and live decent lives as citizens of Australia. Irrespective that this has been largely of Indigenous children I would want to see that every child is treated with greater dignity.”

Senator McCarthy has called for the inhumane behaviour to stop, focusing on the immediate cessation of the use of mechanical restraints on children.


“The duty of care comes back to the Northern Territory government and there is a lack of confidence in the Northern Territory government as we currently sit here today. Of course there must be urgent talks to see what can be done to ensure every child in the detention centre NT has an opportunity to be listened to and feel safe.”

Federal Cabinet will meet tomorrow to consider the terms of reference for a Royal Commission into youth detention in the Northern Territory.

Reactions to shocking treatment of youth in NT detention
After shocking vision emerged of the mistreatment of juvenile inmates in the Northern Territory, there has been a public outcry for change in the justice system.
Update: Royal Commission into NT detention
The Prime Minister has called for a Royal Commission into the Northern Territory's youth detention centres after graphic footage of inmates being mistreated was aired on ABC's Four Corners program last night. Northern Territory Minister John Elferink has also been sacked from his Corrections portfolio
The facts about Indigenous youth detention in Australia
An ABC Four Corners report into the treatment of youth detainees in the Northern Territory showed images of juvenile detainees being gassed, choked and stripped naked in the Don Dale Juvenile Detention Centre.