The North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency (NAAJA) is alarmed at reports in The Australian yesterday that children at Don Dale have been ‘pranking’ police by falsely claiming sexual assaults.
NAAJA is concerned that the report diminishes the seriousness of complaints made by children about their treatment in detention. ‘We are particularly concerned that these attacks will discourage other children in detention from coming forward with complaints about abuse and mistreatment’, said David Woodroffe, Principal Legal Officer at NAAJA.
‘All children in detention have the right to make complaints about their treatment, and for these complaints to be properly investigated and acted upon. Evidence before the Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory has shown that complaints made by detainees have not been taken seriously, and in some instances ended up in the bin’, Mr Woodroffe said.
‘It is crucial that children’s voices are not silenced. Lessons learned from the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse show that we should be supporting children to make disclosures safely.’
This report also highlights the need for children to be informed of their rights and responsibilities in detention. Community legal education by legal services including NAAJA will soon be recommencing at Don Dale.
NAAJA awaits the Royal Commission’s findings and recommendations due to be handed down on 17 November and calls on the Northern Territory Government to commit to implementing its recommendations to ensure a better future for all children and young people in the Northern Territory.
David Woodroffe, Principal Legal Officer, (08) 8982 5123.