Open Statement to the Prime Minister, Premiers and Chief Ministers: Ensure national action on the Report of the Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory

November 20, 2017

ALHR is proud to be one of nearly 100 organisations  to have joined Change the Record to call for immediate national action so we never see abuse again.

We are horrified by the abuses and torture of children in detention in the Northern Territory, highlighted throughout the Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory (the Royal Commission).

We note the report of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Ms Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, following her visit to Australia in March 2017 who found “the routine detention of young indigenous children the most distressing aspect of [her] visit.”

We are deeply concerned at the worsening rate at which Australia is locking up Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, which is now 25 times the rate of non-Indigenous children. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children make up more than half the total number of children in prisons Australia-wide.

We note that this abuse is not isolated to the Northern Territory. Throughout the past 18 months there have been independent Inquiries into youth detention in every jurisdiction except South Australia.

In addition to removing children from their families and communities, children are being subjected to prolonged abuse including isolation, restraint chairs, spit hoods and tear gas in youth prisons.

This is unacceptable.

All Australian governments must take immediate measures to reform our youth justice systems and address the recommendations of the Royal Commission. These must be developed collaboratively with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities to ensure that all of Australia’s children thrive.

The undersigned organisations call on the Australian Government, working with the Northern Territory Government and other State and Territory governments through the Council of Australian Governments (COAG), to seize the landmark opportunity presented by the Royal Commission to:

  • Work in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and their representative bodies to deliver a comprehensive and ongoing response to the recommendations of the Royal Commission
  • Lead national reform through COAG of youth justice systems, laws, policies and practices. This must build on the recommendations of the Royal Commission, with a view to developing national minimum benchmarks for laws and policies
  • Prioritise this issue as a standing item at future COAG meetings to ensure an ongoing comprehensive Commonwealth, State and Territory response to this pressing national issue
  • Ensure there is independent oversight and monitoring of the implementation of the recommendations of the Royal Commission.


For media comment from Change the Record Co-Chairs Antoinette Braybrook or Cheryl Axleby, contact Rashmi Kumar, Principal Advisor, at 0409 711 061 or


Signed by the following organisations:

Aboriginal Family Violence Prevention Legal Service Victoria



Amnesty International Australia


Article 26

Australian Association of Social Workers

Australian Capital Territory Law Society

Australian Child Rights Taskforce

Australian Council of Trade Unions

Australian Health Promotion Association

Australian Indigenous Alpine Sport Foundation

Australian Indigenous Doctors Association

Australian Lawyers for Human Rights

Australian Physiotherapy Association

Australian Youth Affairs Coalition

Bar Association of Queensland

Canberra Police Community Youth Club

Centrecare Inc.

Child Rights Australia

Children and Young People with Disability Australia

Common Grace

Community Legal Centres NSW

Community Legal Centres Queensland

Community Legal Centres Association WA

CREATE Foundation

Democracy in Colour

Elizabeth Evatt Community Legal Centre

Federation of Community Legal Centres (Victoria)

First Peoples Disability Network

Flemington & Kensington Community Legal Centre


Human Rights Law Centre

Indigenous Allied Health Australia

Indigenous Eye Health

Infinite Hope

International Social Service Australia

Jesuit Social Services

Just Reinvest NSW

Justice Reinvestment SA

Koorie Youth Council

Law Council of Australia

Law Society of NSW

Law Society of South Australia

Making Justice Work

Melbourne City Mission

Muticultural Youth Advocacy Network (MYAN)


National Association of Community Legal Centres

National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services

National Children’s and Youth Law Centre

National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples

National Council of Single Mothers and their Children

National FVPLS Forum



Oxfam Australia

People with Disability Australia


Plan International Australia

Protect All Children Today Inc.

Public Health Association of Australia


Reconciliation Australia

Reconciliation Victoria

Relationships Australia


Save the Children Australia

Sisters Inside

Smart Justice for Young People

SNAICC – National Voice for Our Children

Social Determinants of Health Alliance

Southern Aboriginal Corporation

St Vincent de Paul Society of Australia

TEAR Australia

The Bridge of Hope Foundation Inc.

The Kimberley Foundation

The Royal Australasian College of Physicians

UNICEF Australia



Weave Youth & Community Services

Woden Community Service

Youth Action

Youth Advocacy Centre Inc.

Youth Affairs Council of Victoria

Youth Coalition of the ACT