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26 July 2016 - Territory Labor Leader Michael Gunner said that the shocking images on 4 Corners overwhelmed him with a deep sense of grief, anger and shame.

“I welcome the Prime Minister’s announcement of a Royal Commission into the Youth Justice system of the Northern Territory and it has Territory Labor’s full support,” Mr Gunner said.

“I offer bipartisan support to the Giles Government to get this Royal Commission underway as soon as possible.

“Anyone watching that program would be horrified, as I was. The sort of behaviour seen on the program must not be allowed to exist in Australia or the Northern Territory today.

“Whatever those children have done, or been charged with doing, there is no way what was seen was a proper response. It is not how we treat children. It is unacceptable.

“We have failed these kids. We have let them down.

“There must also be an immediate police investigation launched into the actions seen on the program. I have never seen those videos before and I am convinced crimes have been committed.

“There are actions we can and must commit to taking now, including:

  1. Close Don Dale Centre as soon as possible
  2. Move youth justice out of the Corrections Department
  3. Work with the NGO sector to develop a contemporary youth justice and rehabilitation system
  4. Establish an independent oversight mechanism for the youth justice system


Media Contact: Gino Luglietti 0401 119 794

CLP’s John Elferink plunges Youth Justice into Crisis
CLP’s John Elferink plunges Youth Justice into Crisis

10 November 2015 - Shadow Attorney General and Shadow Justice Minister, Lynne Walker, said today that the Territory’s youth justice system continues to lurch from crisis to crisis.


“This is the third relocation of youth detainees in a year, which will yet again lead to another budget blowout for the Youth Justice system,” Ms Walker said.


“This latest crisis is not about difficult detainees, this is about a system that is not working – not for the youths detained, not for staff and not for the community.


“Just this year, the Alice Springs Youth Detention Centre received over $200,000 in works to install a 4 meter high anti-climb mesh fence and an electronic fence on and over the new mesh fence.


“Despite this, three youth escaped last month climbing over the fence.


“Earlier this year, the Vita report made damning findings and recommendations about the Alice Springs facility, including that there were ‘non-existent, outdated and inadequate detention centre procedures and standard operating procedures at Don Dale, Holtze and Alice Springs YDC’s’….  ‘and that their procedures manual had not been updated since 2009’.


“CLP ideology is to lock people up first and ask questions later. The latest 2014/15 annual report shows this. In 2015 the Government has budgeted for the daily average of youth detainees to increase from an average of 41 to 100 youths detained at any one time.


“By contrast, John Elferink is failing in the areas we know to work in youth justice: 

  • Youths under community supervision are the lowest in 3 years falling from 207 to 186;
  • Only 14 families in Alice Springs are being actively case managed under Family Responsibility Agreements - down from 47 in the year prior. This program was hailed by Vita as it helps families divert youths from entering the youth justice system; and
  • $1 million was cut from youth diversion and rehabilitation grants last financial year; and.

“Young people in the justice system hold the best prospects for rehabilitation, but this is not possible 1,500 kilometers from home and family and the social and health supports needed to successfully turn their lives around.


“It’s not good enough for the Minister for Corrections to cry legacy issues. This is the one portfolio that has not had a revolving door of Ministers as part of the CLP Government’s own chaos.


“Minister Elferink needs to be accountable for this latest decision in a string of bad decision making. Minister Elferink needs to explain what is really going on in youth justice.”



Media Contact: Gino Luglietti 0401 119 794 

Youth Justice in Crisis under John Elferink
Youth Justice in Crisis under John Elferink

Lauren Moss

23 September 2015 - The failure to investigate serious allegations of mistreatment within the Don Dale Juvenile Detention Centre is further evidence of a youth justice system which is spiralling out of control, Shadow Minister for Youth, Lauren Moss said today.

“Correctional Services Minister John Elferink’s complete lack of leadership and ‘head in the sand’ approach is indicative of an attitude that is allergic to transparency and accountability,” Ms Moss said.


“If the Attorney General isn’t up to the job, he should stand aside for someone who is.

“The Correctional Services Commissioner’s refusal to investigate incredibly serious allegation of mistreatment outlined at a forum on Monday is an appalling decision, and the Minister for Correctional Services should be making sure this occurs.

“Territorians have a right to know how children in the youth justice system are treated and what steps are being taken to ensure children are treated humanely.

“Mr Elferink must act on the advice of the Children’s Commissioner and ensure the appropriate investigations take place. Unfortunately his performance to date gives little faith that he takes these issues seriously.

“Under Mr Elferink’s watch we have seen disturbances at Don Dale jump from 5 in 2012 to 12 in 2014, a trend that seems to be continuing in 2015.

“Mr Elferink also sat on a Children’s Commissioner’s report for a month and has refused to provide a response to recommendations such as:

  1. The complete overhaul of orientation and training that is attached to staff personnel files and mandatory regular ongoing refresher training;
  2. That psychometric testing is used for recruitment;
  3. A complete review of every single position that works in a youth justice correctional setting;
  4. That the review of operational procedures actually adhere to the Youth Justice Act and the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child; and
  5. That youth justice develops a procedure on the use of spit hoods.


“It’s well and truly time for Mr Elferink to listen to the experts, and fix the crisis his approach to youth justice has created.”


Media Contact: Gino Luglietti 0401 119 794



Shadow Minister for Corrections Michael Gunner today said that the CLP’s youth justice crisis is completely of their own making.

“Like so many of CLP’s problems their youth justice crisis in entirely self-inflicted,” Mr Gunner said.

“The CLP have completely ignored the recommendations of the report undertaken by their own former leader Jodeen Carney who they have appointed head of Child Protection.

“They have ignored Jodeen Carney's report, the system has collapsed, so they have ordered another report.”

Mr Gunner said he was very interested in seeing who the independent expert is who will provide better advice to the CLP on youth justice than Ms Carney. 

“The CLP’s crisis is so severe that they are now using a facility for youth detention that their own head of corrections described ‘was so run down it should be bulldozed’,” Mr Gunner said.

“The CLP ignored all the advice on how to keep young people out of detention so they now can’t even keep them all in.

“The CLP’s youth justice crisis is just one of many debacles overseen by John Elferink.”

“As Attorney General he has overseen more violent crime than ever before – assaults in the Northern Territory are higher than when the CLP were elected in 2012.

“As Minister for Child Protection he has overseen a 30 per cent increase in child abuse reports but has cut the budget and the number of investigations that are completed.

“And his corrections failures are now so severe he has had to commission a report into his own failures.

“It is little wonder that he is spending taxpayer dollars to improve his post politics resume by attending a legal professional development course.”


Media contact: Cathryn Tilmouth 


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