Youth at Australia’s Don Dale detention centre in stable condition after medical emergency

PUBLISHED : Monday, 16 January, 2017, 9:00pm
UPDATED : Monday, 16 January, 2017, 9:47pm

A young person held on remand at the Northern Territory’s notorious Don Dale detention centre is in a stable condition after an undisclosed medical emergency.

Kids go into incarceration, they’re coming out then they’re reoffending and they’re ultimately ending up in adult prison systems
Acting chief minister Nicole Manison

NT authorities on Sunday reported the young person, who has not been identified, was flown to Melbourne for emergency medical treatment after an incident on Sunday morning.

Jeanette Kerr, the acting chief executive of the NT Department of Territory Families, which oversees youth justice, said the young person was expected to make a full recovery. Kerr said support had been offered to the young person’s family as well as to staff who responded to the incident.

Kerr had earlier said an investigation had begun and early indications were youth justice staff had acted appropriately and in the best interests of the child. No further details of the incident would be disclosed for privacy reasons, she said.

The NT government is under increasing pressure to make immediate changes to the youth justice system, which the acting chief minister, Nicole Manison, last week conceded was broken.

“Kids go into incarceration, they’re coming out then they’re reoffending and they’re ultimately ending up in adult prison systems,” she said. “That shows you the system is not working.”

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A royal commission into the protection and detention of children in the NT was launched last year after ABC’s Four Corners broadcast footage of detainees being mistreated and abused.

It is scheduled to report in August, but detainee and victim’s advocates and sector workers have called for the government to act now, including for an increased investment in diversionary measures.

The number of detainees held in Don Dale has decreased over the past year, but youth crime in NT towns and cities remains a widespread concern as overall rates fluctuate in different areas and town centres.

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High-profile cases continue to spark anger among the public, including an ongoing police hunt for a 17-year-old boy accused of stealing a car and crashing it in a Darwin suburb over the weekend.

Allegations of mistreatment at Don Dale continue to surface, including claims that another teenager was tear-gassed inside his cell in April last year. He is among a number of detainees party to a class action lawsuit against the NT government over their treatment.

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“The public has every right to be concerned about community safety, as we all want to live in safer communities,” said Jared Sharp, the general manager of Jesuit Social Services.

“But we cannot allow fear and concern to overshadow the bigger picture – which is that youth crime rates across Australia are actually decreasing and there is no ‘youth crime epidemic’ as some would suggest.”