NT slammed for child help inaction
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.