NT slammed for child help in­ac­tion

The Australian - - THE NATION - AMOS AIKMAN

North­ern Ter­ri­tory au­thor­i­ties are stuck in a “re­port­ing men­tal­ity” and fail­ing to in­ter­vene in fam­i­lies be­fore their chil­dren’s be­hav­iour de­te­ri­o­rates, lead­ing ever more young­sters to put them­selves and oth­ers at risk, the Chil­dren’s Com­mis­sioner says.

Colleen Gwynne, a for­mer po­lice­woman, warned that this week’s un­rest in Don Dale — where 35 per cent of de­tainees are un­der child pro­tec­tion or­ders — could her­ald worse to come.

“We are still re­act­ing and we still can­not get govern­ment work­ing to­gether at the ear­li­est, ear­li­est point to make sure that we do ev­ery­thing to di­vert young peo­ple away from crim­i­nal of­fend­ing and away from child pro­tec­tion,” Ms Gwynne said.

“We’ve still got this re­port­ing men­tal­ity where if some­thing hap­pens at two o’clock, you re­port to some­one, and they re­port to some­one else, and they re­port to some­one else.

“In that whole length of time, maybe (the child) has com­mit­ted two of­fences, and he’s prob­a­bly liv­ing it rough some­where, couch surf­ing (and) will prob­a­bly end up in care.

“But no one has ac­tu­ally done any­thing tan­gi­ble here be­cause there’s no holis­tic re­sponse. It’s a men­tal­ity of re­port­ing, and that’s where we are fail­ing.”

Her com­ments come as all but one of Don Dale Youth Deten- tion Cen­tre’s 25 in­mates pre­pared to spend an­other night in the Dar­win po­lice watch-house while au­thor­i­ties re­spon­si­ble for their care strug­gled to find some­where else to house them.

Ter­ri­tory Fam­i­lies was forced to ad­mit yes­ter­day that one prob­lem was the loss of a set of keys snatched by one of the youths in a vi­o­lent in­ci­dent that started Tues­day’s riot.

Ter­ri­tory Fam­i­lies Min­is­ter Dale Wake­field would not rule out mov­ing the young­sters to an adult jail or even a fa­cil­ity in­ter­state if re­pair­ing Don Dale took too long.

“What we’re do­ing at the mo­ment is mak­ing sure we’ve got some other op­tions up our sleeve,” Ms Wake­field said.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.