Federal Court will hear NT youth detention class action


Sir – We welcome the decision of the Federal Court to allow young people who were abused while detained in the NT’s youth detention centres to proceed with a class action in the Federal Court.
A Federal Court judgement has been handed down in the case following an application made earlier this year by the NT Government to have the matter struck out or declassed, and instead heard as individual cases in the NT Supreme Court.
The judgement was an important victory for young people seeking access to justice in the NT.
Ensuring this matter can proceed as a class action, as we have sought to do from the outset, is critical because it means all young people who were abused while under the care of the NT Government in detention centres can pursue their legal rights collectively rather than having to pursue individual actions against the NT.
There are many current and former detainees who deserve to be compensated for the wrongs they have suffered as a result of poor and abusive practices undertaken within the NT’s youth justice system.
We have always maintained that for many young people a class action is the only means of ensuring these young people can get access to the justice. We are pleased that the Court has now also confirmed that we can do this.
The class action continued to play an important role in seeking much-needed reform for the NT’s youth detention system, along with the ongoing efforts of the Royal Commission.
It is clear the current system has not worked and a better way forward is needed. As I’ve said previously, these kids may have broken the law, but they didn’t deserve to be broken by the law.
The Federal Court also made orders that allowed young people who have cases underway in the Supreme Court relating to specific incidents to take part in the class action for redress for other abuse they suffered in youth detention.
The parties will be back before the Federal Court for a case management hearing on December 18.
Ben Slade
Maurice Blackburn Class Action Principal


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