By ERWIN CHLANDA
The Aboriginal Peak Organisations (APO) are expressing “anger and disgust” at the NT Government’s decision to place the Alice Springs and now the Darwin juvenile detention centre adjacent to the adult prisons, some 30 km out of town and without public transport.
APO spokesperson John Paterson says the government is ignore Royal Commission recommendations: “It’s becoming clear that the government isn’t interested in genuine reform and certainly isn’t interested in consulting or engaging with us.
“The message this decision sends to youth detainees is chillingly clear – you can look forward to a future path into the adult prison system.
“Forget the focus on prevention and breaking the cycles, and on a therapeutic, public health approach that the Royal Commission recommended.”
Mr Paterson says the absence of public transport “will prevent families from visiting their children—again against the Royal Commission’s findings”.
The adult prison in Alice Springs has a bus service run by volunteers from the Prisoners Fellowship, but not the “juvie” next door.
Mr Paterson says: “We also advocated for the development of a number of secure residential options in regional locations along with Darwin and Alice Springs, rather than two large facilities in Darwin and Alice.
“These should be located within the community and facilitate therapeutic and rehabilitative care of young people to support their reintegration into community.
“This decision also occurs against the backdrop of the establishment of a formal COAG Partnership Agreement and a Joint Council on Closing the Gap with a national Coalition of Indigenous Peak organisations, seeking fundamental change in the way governments work with our people.
“The government’s action undermines that aspiration but is sadly emblematic of top-down, expedient government decision-making that is central to the failure of Closing the Gap policies.
“APO NT strongly urges the NT Government to pause and reconsider its decision.”
Aboriginal Peak Organisations
By ERWIN CHLANDA