• Courts involving Aboriginal Elders are to be revived in the NT, to offer an alternative to jail. (AAP)Source: AAP
The proportions have not changed since the royal commission into youth detention.
NITV Staff Writer

26 Jun 2018 - 4:21 PM  UPDATED 26 Jun 2018 - 4:24 PM

All 38 children held in detention in the Northern Territory are Aboriginal, a parliamentary committee was told last week.

The NT Families Department was being questioned on June 20 over how the rate of Aboriginal children in detention had changed since the royal commission.

The inquiry was announced in 2016 after ABC’s Four Corners program showed footage of prison guards assaulting boys held in juvenile detention.

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"As of today, 100% of the children in detention are Aboriginal,” said Jeanette Kerr, the deputy chief executive of operations for the department.

“The proportions have not changed since the royal commission."

She said there were 17 children in Darwin’s Don Dale detention centre and 21 in Alice Springs.

‘We want troubled young people on our homelands’

In a statement read to the committee, independent MP Yingiya Mark Guyula said: “The royal commission provided evidence that the ways that the Balanda [white] system treats Aboriginal children is inhumane, costly and does not work.”

“In my electorate of Nhulunbuy, we want to see our Elders in control of raypirri – or discipline – for our young people. We want troubled young people out on homelands with oversight from Elders, and access to education from our people and through the school system.

“The problem is, this requires a genuine partnership between government and Yolngu leaders, with funding to assist our young people.”

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Speaking to the committee, former Territory Families minister Dale Wakefield said: “It is an area that we are going to need to continue to develop.

“We need to make sure ... that local communities can make decisions around the ways they want to respond to young people who are not meeting community expectations in terms of their behaviour.”

‘It’s been at crisis point for quite a while’

Meanwhile, staff unions have described a series of violent incidents at the Don Dale detention centre this month which have not been made public by the NT Government.

"It's been at crisis point for quite a while now, and it needs to get fixed and it needs to have things put in place to make sure it doesn't happen again," the CPSU's Kay Densley told the ABC.

"There was a riot a week or so ago, we've had incidents when they've been on the roof, etcetera, and these are the sorts of things that happen when there's no staffing numbers and untrained staff, it's very dangerous."

In 2017, the royal commission called for sweeping changes to address the "shocking and systemic failures" and recommended ending detention for children under 14, except for serious crimes.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said his government would “carefully consider” the recommendations but said they were mostly the responsibility of the NT Government.

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