Sleeping on the floor in over-crowded juvie


2479 juvenile detention 2 OKBy ERWIN CHLANDA
With more young people than ever going into detention – 519 in 2016/17 compared to 468 in 2013/14 – facilities are bursting at the seams and young people in Alice are being transferred to Darwin far from the possible support of family and friends.
When transfers have occurred, it has been “as a result of behavioural or safety issues or because the facility has been at capacity,” according to a Territory Families spokesperson.
She was responding to questions put to the department by the Alice Springs News Online.
“The highest number of young people accommodated at the centre this year has been 27,” the spokesperson says.
“The centre can accommodate up to 18 young people. Infrastructure improvements currently underway will increase flexibility by putting in more accommodation options.”
There are single rooms or dorm style rooms and “on occasion young people can sleep on mattresses on the floor.
“This is often a result of family and kinship connections or because of increased detainee numbers.
“When young people do share a room, age, maturity, behaviour, family relationships and social and emotional wellbeing is taken into consideration,” says the spokesperson.
The average number of young people in the facility was 15 between July 1, 2017 and September 10, 2018, excluding the period between September 15, 2017 and November 1, 2017 when the facility was closed for extensive fix and make safe works, says the spokesperson.
2479 juvenile detention 6 OKThe majority of young people at the detention centre come from the southern region including Tennant Creek.
Across the whole of the NT, in the four years between 2013/14 and 2016/17 the daily average number of young people in detention has dropped but the number of youth receptions into a youth detention facility has increased. The respective figures were:–
In detention 48, 42, 49, 37. Receptions into detention 468, 462, 530, 519.
The daily averages for youth in detention by legal status were:–
Unsentenced 28, 30, 34, 28. Sentenced 19, 11, 15, 9. There are massively more unsentenced detainees than sentenced ones – more than triple for the 2016/17 year.
At the Alice Springs facility, any transfer to Don Dale “is done in consultation with the young person, their family and legal support team as well as youth outreach re-engagement officers and child protection practitioners.
“When a transfer does occur ongoing efforts are made to facilitate family access.”
The facility is in lockdown overnight and for 30 minutes each morning and afternoon.
Education is compulsory for all young people until the age of 17. Schooling includes direct classroom teaching and learning. Three teachers and a teaching principal deliver the school program each school day for 48 weeks per year, says the spokesperson.
As part of current infrastructure upgrades and reconfiguration of the inside of the facility an office and the medical room will be turned into dorm rooms. This will also see construction of improved medical facilities.
Works are also occurring to improve security and the safety of young people at the centre. Where there was a mesh fence previously, a screen has been erected between the road and the exercise and recreational area “to increase privacy”.
Conversely, that “screen” – a corrugated iron fence – obscures the detainees’ view outside.
The NT Government has invested $10.48m “to complete fix and make safe works at the Alice Springs and Don Dale centres,” according to the spokesperson.
“This includes the establishment of new and separate education and female accommodation facilities at the Alice Springs facility.
“More than $70m has also been committed to the construction of replacement facilities for the Alice Springs and the Don Dale centre.”
The News has asked for respective figures – Alice Springs and Don Dale.
The spokesperson says: “A number of options are being considered for the development of a new facility in Alice Springs. This will be determined by Cabinet in consultation with the community.
“Territory Families is also working with the Department of Infrastructure and Planning on the design of the new centre.”
PHOTOS here were taken last year. The department has indicated it will give the Alice Springs News Online access to get new images soon. The exercise yard is now shielded by a corrugated iron fence for “privacy reasons” but it also obscures the detainees’ view outside.


  1. Nearly a year after the royal commission was released this government has proven it self not only to be incompetent, but now grossly negligent. At this point everyone in the sector is waiting for the day that there is a death in youth detention. Then maybe we will see real change.

  2. The sad fact is most of these young people have been brought up with no boundaries or rules in their lives and commit crimes and end up in the one place which relies heavely on boundaries and rules.
    The people working at these places must be saints with what they have to put up with.
    You hear stories of no respect for them, they get spat at, punched and worse but have to remain quiet on all the issues out of fear of losing their jobs and fear of the media blowing defensive actions out of the water with their one sided bias.
    I think a honest account of the whole experience needs to be documented so they public can know what really happens.
    This might result in the government caring more about kids’ quality of life from he start of their lives and not after the damage has been done and is most likely unreversable. End of rant.

  3. Hahaha. Sent to Darwin away from family and friends … what an absolute joke.
    Their family should have cared enough to stop them running amuck. And their bloody friends are the F-Wits egging them on.
    It just gives the feral no-hopers reason to moan and scream for more funding.
    Pfft a pox on the lot of you.

  4. In Victoria, stats released last week show that the 15 to 19 age group has the highest rate of violent crime.
    If juvie detention centres in the NT are bursting at the seams with teenagers who assault guards, surely this tends to suggest that around the country, this age group is in serious danger of breaking down the sovereign borders of restraint and authority’s control.


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