The Darwin community is gearing up for a rally in Darwin on Saturday to voice their ongoing concerns over the Turnbull Government’s handling of the Royal Commission into the treatment of children in the Northern Territory’s youth detention system.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull yesterday announced the terms of reference for the Royal Commission, to be headed by former NT chief justice Brian Ross Martin, with a reporting date of March 31 next year.
NT Indigenous leaders are angry the terms of reference were developed by Federal Cabinet and the NT Government, with little or no consultation with local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders.
The Royal Commission was announced after last Monday’s 4 Corners program which showed young people being tear-gassed, stripped naked and strapped to mechanical chairs wearing so-called spit hoods for hours at a time while held in the NT juvenile justice system.
The brutality and humiliation shown in the footage has drawn comparisons to the treatment of inmates at the infamous Guantanamo Bay facility.
A group of around 20 men who are part of a local Darwin men’s network resolved the rally’s message would be the Royal Commission should be national and headed by someone from outside the NT judicial system.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Lawyer Matthew Bonsonwill be speaking at the rally.
“The NT Government knew about these abuses and did nothing, yet it was consulted in drafting the terms of reference and will be involved in the ongoing administration of the Royal Commission,” Mr Bonson said.
“The NT Government, headed by Adam Giles, is part of the problem and cannot be trusted to investigate themselves. The fact the sacked Corrections Minister John Elferink remains Attorney-General and Minister for Children and Families is a sick joke.”
The indigenous leaders resolved the rally will call out the Turnbull Government’s failure to set up a Royal Commission that will take a forensic look into racism and outdated, closed-minded attitudes in addition to child protection, detention, health and welfare.
The group emphasised the failure of the Turnbull Government to consult with indigenous organisations to find a way to address intergenerational trauma, high levels of incarceration, poor health and education outcomes, particularly in Indigenous communities.
Indigenous leaders are also questioning whether authorities have breached any UN Conventions, including the Convention on the Rights of the Child, International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, and Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.