• Mixed feelings prevail at the Northern Territory Royal Commission (NITV News/Elliana Lawford)Source: NITV News/Elliana Lawford
People have congregated on the steps of the Northern Territory Supreme Court in Darwin, ahead of the formal hearings of the Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory.
By
Elliana Lawford

Source:
NITV News
11 Oct 2016 - 11:51 AM  UPDATED 11 Oct 2016 - 11:54 AM

Amongst the crowd is community Elder, Aunty Kathy Mills, who still finds it difficult to ‘stomach’ the graphic images of children mistreated in the Don Dale Detention Centre. She told NITV: “those images are still stuck in my mind. They traumatized me. They are our kids.”

Aunty Mills is skeptical the royal commission will bring change.

“This court is just a tent, because the royal commission is just a circus, and no one knows what’s going on,” she says.

“I’m angry and upset. This is the third royal commission into mistreatment of Aboriginal people that I’ve been a part of and I’m not confident it’s going to achieve anything more than (the previous ones) did.”

Darwin resident Jon Dodson said “I’m hoping that this Royal Commission is going to achieve change, but I’m not confident.

“As a community, we all have to stand together – Aboriginal people and non-aboriginal people. All of us need to stand together and do something to achieve change for these kids and our community,” Mr Dodson says.

A spokesperson for Aboriginal Peak Organisations Northern Territory (APONT) echoed the sentiment. She told NITV: “No one knows what’s going on. We’re concerned for the kids currently in detention because we don’t know if anything’s changed.”

“I’m angry and upset. This is the third royal commission into mistreatment of Aboriginal people that I’ve been a part of and I’m not confident it’s going to achieve anything more than (the previous ones) did.”

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced the royal commission after shocking footage of boys being tear gassed at the Don Dale Youth Detention Centre was aired on national television.

On Monday, Attorney General George Brandis announced $1.1 million in federal funding for the North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency (NAAJA), to provide free legal advice to the Children in Care and Youth Detention Advice Service.

About 20 community members are awaiting the start of Tuesday’s hearing, which will open to the public and streamed online.

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