• The disproportionate rate of Indigenous kids in care has previously sparked rallies across the country. (NITV News)Source: NITV News
The inquiry returns to Darwin on Monday to examine child welfare systems and will will also hear personal stories from vulnerable witnesses.
By
Lucy Hughes Jones

Source:
NITV News, AAP
14 Jun 2017 - 5:25 PM  UPDATED 14 Jun 2017 - 5:32 PM

A former Northern Territory deputy chief minister will front the Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children when hearings resume in Darwin for two weeks.

Robyn Lambley was the Country Liberals government deputy leader in 2012, but in 2015 quit her party to sit as an independent Alice Springs MP.

As the inquiry returns to Darwin to examine child welfare systems, the member for Araluen will take the stand along with current and former government staff, foster carers and residential care providers.

Experts in child development and mental health, Aboriginal community elders, and case workers are expected to testify.

NT Children's Commissioner, Colleen Gwynne, and President of the Children's Court of Western Australia, Judge Denis Reynolds, will also give evidence.

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The commission will also hear personal stories from vulnerable witnesses.  

A community forum will be held on Monday to allow co-commissioners Margaret White and Mick Gooda to hear firsthand accounts.

The teen whose mistreatment sparked the inquiry, Dylan Voller, told 60 Minutes he was strapped into a restraint chair multiple times, starting at age 12.

Footage of the former youth inmate being tear-gassed, spit-hooded and shackled to restraint chairs, prompted Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to call the commission last July.

Voller said the longest time he was held in isolation was a month-and-a-half.

"You feel lonely. You feel like there's no-one there and no-one cares. You start talking to yourself and going mad," he said on Sunday.

The 19-year-old was jailed in 2014 for a violent, ice-fuelled crime spree but granted bail in February to undergo the Alice Springs BushMob program.

Voller says he's ready to change his life, and his biggest regret is having used the drug.

"Every young kid is worth something, and with a little bit of help they can turn their life around. I'm a result of that. Probably thinking about studying law," he said.

Voller's childhood was largely filled with solitary confinement, violence, and spit hoods. Overseas, media described his treatment inside youth detention as “like something out of Guantanamo Bay”.

“I was younger, I was a young kid, I'd had a fair bit of trauma and I didn't know how to cope with it and I acted out and that. All I can do is apologise to everyone that I did offend and move forward," Voller told NITV News recently.

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