AMA’s NT chief wants rehab for youth offenders
AS authorities continue the costly clean-up caused by the damage during the Don Dale riots, the Territory’s head doctor has demanded children be removed from lockup and instead directed into rehabilitation programs.
Australian Medical Association NT president Robert Parker said children, particularly those who are first of- fenders, should not be detained within watch houses or adult prisons.
The push comes as 24 youth detainees are held at the NT Police’s Darwin watch house after Tuesday night’s riot.
The clean-up and return of young people to the centre was delayed after Territory Families failed to find the master keys stolen by the rioters for a couple of days.
Yesterday, Acting Chief Minister Nicole Manison said the young people would be moved back into Don Dale this weekend. Dr Parker said this was the ideal chance to relook at the youth justice system.
“Youth offenders, particularly those in their first offence, should be in youth rehabilitation facilities,” Dr Parker said. “That’s going to do a lot more to address the trauma and other issues that often lead to offending, rather than sticking them all in prison where they learn bad habits.”
He said those being detained in the watch house were at risk.
“We’re concerned about their physical and mental health,” Dr Parker said.
“We understand (why they’re there) but we hope they have had appropriate assessments to check their health.”
A Territory Families spokeswoman said it was up to the courts to determine a young person’s sentence.
“An additional nurse has been provided along with a psychologist. The medical needs and health and wellbeing of the young people is constantly being monitored and assessed,” she said.
“Three young people have been taken to the Royal Darwin Hospital including two young people at risk and another young person for treatment of an injury sustained pre-detention.”