Don Dale riot a wake-up call to fix NT youth justice

The union representing staff at Don Dale Youth Detention Centre says the Northern Territory Government must urgently act to ensure last night’s riot is not repeated and that children and workers are safe.

The CPSU is offering support to youth justice officers including those who had to be rescued during last night’s incident, with one staff member requiring hospital treatment for injuries.

The union is seeking feedback from members on what steps need to be taken before any children are returned to detention at Don Dale. 

CPSU NT Regional Secretary Kay Densley said: “Last night’s incident is obviously causing a lot of anxiety for everyone working at Don Dale. It was a terrifying situation for the officers who were trapped and would have been pretty scary for some of the kids caught up in it as well. We’re contacting our members at Don Dale and offering support to everyone who works there.”

“This absolutely needs to be a wake-up call to the NT Government. Don Dale is a mess and based on the events of last night it’s getting worse. It’s completely unacceptable that the Government isn’t able to provide a safe and secure facility, both for the people who work there and the kids who are being held in detention.”

“Ultimately, we need a new purpose-built facility to replace Don Dale as soon as possible, not in three or five or 10 years time. If there’s any way to get suitable new facilities built sooner, both in Darwin and Alice Springs, then the Government should make it happen.”

“In the meantime, there needs to be some major changes to tackle the violence and other safety issues that are putting Don Dale staff and the kids there at risk. The Government has gone on a massive recruitment drive to address the long-term understaffing at Don Dale, which is obviously a positive, but they’ve done close to nothing about the fact that around half the staff at Don Dale are now new and inexperienced. Instead, training for new officers has been progressively cut from six weeks to now four weeks.”

“Don Dale workers need better training, equipment, facilities and support and they need all of those things now. The NT Government’s efforts to date have not improved safety or security at Don Dale or Alice Springs Youth Detention Centre, and that needs to change now.”