AMA’s NT chief wants re­hab for youth of­fend­ers

Sunday Territorian - - NEWS - PHILLIPPA BUTT

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.”

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