No one knew the extent of how youth had been treated, abused and tortured in Northern Territory juvenile detention centres, not even their very own family members.
Kirra Voller is the sister of Dylan, a boy featured as one of the main victims of systematic and horrific abuse at the hands of staff in Don Dale juvenile detention.
Dylan is currently in an adult jail, waiting to be paroled next month. Kirra said he had been in and out of custody many times.
“He would’ve been inside the jail more than he has been outside in the past seven years,” she said.
“He wouldn’t accept a hug and when I said I love you he rolled his eyes as if saying there’s nothing you can do... I don’t think he thought I would have understood, and truth is, I wouldn't have understood until I had seen that footage. That image is haunting, every time I see it I cry.”
Dylan’s case became the subject of a report by former NT children’s commissioner Howard Bath that was given to the NT government but never released.
In 2014, prison officers were acquitted of charges of mistreating him and their acquittals were upheld on appeal.
After CCTV footage of some of the incidents was broadcast on ABC’s Four Corners program, Dylan Voller responded with a letter, released through his lawyers, thanking the public and apologising for his crimes.
Ms Voller said the letter comes from Dylan’s heart and that she’s proud of who he is.
“He didn’t need to say sorry; he had wrong done to him before he even did the wrongdoing. He’s the one apologising before the government is apologising to him which just shows the type of kid he is.
With all the support from around Australia and town, it’s really helped keep Dylan stay positive.
"Tell them I don’t want sympathy from this, I don’t want any money, I just want to make sure that no other child gets treated the way I did."
“Dylan’s overwhelmed with the support. He was always the kid that no one took seriously, he was just treated like the boy that cried wolf but finally, finally people are listening and believing a story because of the images that came out. It took that long for people to believe him but now they know the truth.”
But Kirra says the workers have continually tried to break his spirit, terrify him with their abuse and torture, she said he almost lost hope.
“I remember seeing him in Don Dale, in the asbestos ridden centre. I could see a change in his person. I was trying to be positive but he wouldn’t even look at me. He wouldn’t accept a hug and he kept to himself. When I said we love you he just rolled his eyes as if saying there’s nothing you can do. He couldn’t even tell me, I don’t think he thought I would have understood, and to be honest I wouldn’t have understood until I had actually seen that footage. That image is haunting, every time I see it I cry.”
Kirra believes her brother was targeted and she’s disgusted authorities didn’t do more even after her brother repeatedly called on human rights commissioners to help.
“I think he was targeted, the other boys were set up to fight him, they were told to pour hot water on him… a lot of those people in those organisations just believe he deserved what he got because of petty crimes he did when he was a child, but that’s not just - so what are they doing working in the justice system?
“He told me he’s written letters to human rights commissioners and all these different people trying to get them to listen but none of them, not one listened,” she said.
"I just wish we had our childhood together, but that was taken from him."
Kirra says he knows the abusive treatment was unfair and unjust and all he wants is for it to stop.
“I’m beyond words proud of him, I can’t even describe it. I’ve just been thinking about what I’m going to do or say or how I’m going to act around him because I feel so hurt for him but so proud of him as well. The fact that he can be this strong person after everything he’s been through … I just wish we had our childhood together, but that was taken from him.”
Dylan’s request to Kirra:
Make sure you let people know I don’t want people’s sympathy from this, I don’t want their money, and I just want to make sure that no other children get put through this treatment again, that this never happens to anyone else.