Media Release: Northern Territory Juvenile Justice Exposure

Graphic footage aired on the ABC’s Four Corners Program has exposed the brutal mistreatment of young boys in the Juvenile Justice System between 2010 and 2015. The Four Corners footage showed detainees as young as thirteen being repeatedly stripped naked, thrown against walls, kneed and knocked to the ground. Furthermore, detainees were placed in solitary confinement for excessive periods of time and sprayed with tear gas in confined spaces.

Following the extensive media coverage and public outcry against these revelations, the Northern Territory’s Chief Minister Adam Giles removed and replaced the Northern Territory’s Minister for Corrections John Elferink. Furthermore, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has ordered a Royal Commission into Darwin’s Don Dale Detention Centre. Although Justice Action believes the Commission will be a positive presence in highlighting the terrible injustice done to young people, we do not believe that it goes far enough. Justice Action would like to see the Royal Commission extended beyond the Northern Territory. The crisis facing young people in juvenile detention is a national issue for both young people and adults.

The treatment of young boys in Darwin’s Don Dale Detention centre amounts to torture and constitutes a breach of Australia’s international obligations under [OPCAT]. In 2009, Justice Action produced a report to the Australian Human Rights Commission. If these recommendations had been adopted in 2009 these terrible conditions may have been rectified sooner.

Justice Action condemns the atrocities perpetuated towards young people within the criminal justice system. These are places where young people need the most support. Unfortunately, the history of the penal colony is littered with the continuation of such incidents, and will inevitably continue without the crucial intervention of our elected representatives, legal officers, non-government organisations and advocates, and the general public. It is up to society to keep our representatives accountable for such tragic oversights, and force them to intervene rather than ignore these travesties.

As a result of these recent events, Justice Action acknowledges that the following changes should be enacted promptly:

1. Expansion of the Royal Commission to include investigation of all places of detention in all states and territories.
2. Adoption of the recommendations made by Justice Action’s international Consultation regarding the OPCAT treaty.
3. Implementation of an NPM (National Preventative Mechanism) ensuring regular inspection of all places of detention, including juvenile detention centres in Australia.

Media Summary: Northern Territory Juvenile Justice Exposure

Nagle Royal Commission Report

The Nagle Royal Commission Report has been digitised for the first time and is here available.

The fact that it has not been available is proof that those who were condemned by Justice Nagle for their "brutality and savagery" were never held responsible and are still in charge. The lack of safety for those in the secret places called prisons is a blight on our civilisation. Use of force is out of control.

Nagle Royal Commission Lessons – draft 30/11/12


On 22nd November 2012, the headline article in the Sydney Morning Herald brings the spotlight back onto the rampant assaults and blatant lies by prison officers once again. The ongoing history and exposure on the ‘use of force’ of prison officials can be traced back all the way to the Nagle Report, a report by the Royal Commission investigating the conditions and treatment that face prisoners on a daily basis. It was a shocking publication that caused a great outcry in the parliament and general public. However, the report was never digitized and made available to the public, and was effectively concealed from our community.

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Northern Territory Juvenile Justice Exposure


Graphic footage aired on the ABC’s Four Corners Program has shed light on the brutal mistreatment of young boys in the juvenile justice system between 2010 and 2015. Detainees as young as thirteen were repeatedly stripped naked, thrown against walls, kneed and knocked to the ground, forcefully restrained, placed in solitary confinement for extended periods and sprayed with tear gas in a confined space. This constitutes to torture and is a blatant violation of Australia’s obligations under OPCAT.

This endemic violence occurs when vulnerable people are kept in secret places where no one is watching. It constitutes a breach of Australia’s international obligations under OPCAT that should be rectified.

At the Human Rights Commission Seminar on the adoption of the OPCAT treaty on 25 November 2009, Justice Action represented the detainees and proposed a number of recommendations on the issue, with which the world-leading expert on torture Silvia Casale agreed. The adoption of the recommendations would have prevented the atrocities that have occurred in Northern Territory.

Following media coverage and public outcry against this incident, the Northern Territory’s Chief Minister Adam Giles removed and replaced the Northern Territory’s Minister for Corrections John Elferink. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has announced a Royal Commission into the acts of abuse in Darwin’s Don Dale Detention Centre.

Turnbull’s commission was initially criticised due to its limited scope (to the NT, Don Dale in particular) and the appointment of former Northern Territory Supreme Court Chief Justice Brian Martin to head of the inquiry. However, Brian Martin resigned as head of the commission just 4 days after his appointment leading to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander social justice commissioner Mick Gooda and Justice Margaret White being appointed as co-commissioners.


Media Summary: Northern Territory Juvenile Justice Exposure

Media Release: Northern Territory Juvenile Justice Exposure 

JA Report The benefits of monitoring places of detention – from a prisoner’s perspective


Parklea Prisoners Protest Crammed Cells

On March 11th, 2014, the private prison manager GEO implemented a new policy that crams three young male prisoners into two person cells the size of a bathroom for 18 hours a day. This prompted the outraged prisoners to petition for an open Inquiry into its effects, who decided it, after what research and consultation, and to stop it pending the Inquiry. They said A loophole has been found by GEO's legal branch enabling GEO to bypass existing laws The beds are being installed purely for profit.

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Prisoner Education Forum 2016


Community Justice Coalition (CJC) and the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) are presenting a public forum on Prisoner Education.

Several key speakers including Shadow Minister Guy Zangari MP, The Greens Spokesperson David Shoebridge MLC, Former Chief Justice of the Family Court of Australia Elizabeth Evatt AC, and President for NSW Teachers Federation Maurie Mulheron.

Tuesday 23 August 2016
Time: 5:30pm to 7:30pm
Venue: Parliament House Sydney, Macquarie Room
Come along! Please email RSVP to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
For more information, and Forum Paper visit CJC or ICJ website

Prisoner Storage Rights

When people are arrested their ability to keep control of property is limited. The successful campaign in NSW has ensured this right remains safeguarded.

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Prisoners right of possession

Prisoners right of possession is fundamental to their entitlement for respect. To tell their stories, express themselves in art and be paid for their creation is a basic human right. To be denied that is to abuse the power of punishment and to render the prisoner the status of slave. Download paper

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Prisoners' Right to Storage


Prisoners in NSW are at risk of losing all of their personal possessions held in storage, from the time of their arrest. They were given less than two weeks notice to arrange for a person outside to collect their stored items or risk having them destroyed or sold. This situation occurred due to a change in government funding for Prisoners’ Aid Association. It maintained a storage facility for one thousand prisoners. This property includes documentation necessary for effective resettlement upon release. The right of prisoners to store their property after their arrest is not being respected, though it is clearly a legal and civil obligation. A video of interviews is here.

The right to store personal property after arrest is rarely respected, despite the state’s obligation to protect it. The campaign that defended the NSW storage program is being extended across not only Australia, but also internationally.

After thirty years of fulfilling this obligation, in 2013, Corrective Services NSW discontinued funding for the Prisoners Aid Association’s storage program. One thousand prisoners were told their property would need to be taken from storage or destroyed; understandably, they were outraged. This experience highlights the powerlessness of prisoners at the very beginning of their prison sentence, when they have been isolated from support.

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Rapid Build Prison Dormitories




The NSW Government has adopted a new concept in prison architecture to allow an urgent response to an unexpected surge in prisoner numbers. This new form of imprisonment, holding 800 maximum security prisoners in dormitories of 25 together, is being constructed without public discussion about the consequences. The CJC has researched the international experience of prisoners dormitories and is concerned that this sytem raises levels of violence, bullying and fear, with damage to prisoner health and recividism. The uncertainty surrounding the concept of a dormitory styled prison is exhibited by plans to demolish the Wellington complex within 5-7 years.Cubicles in the dormitories will be 3m by 2m with partitions 1.5m high and no door. An increased level of activity will be offered using computers with educational access and potential for email.

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Transgender Inmates

Transgender Inmates - General

How Does the Justice System Classify Transgender Individuals?
Transgender inmates classified by the Department of Corrective Services include persons who have been identified as being non-biological male or female gender, with or without having undergone gender-related surgery or hormone therapy appropriate to their choice.

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Life Prisoners' Inquiry: The Hearing Report

The NSW Parliament Legislative Council’s Inquiry into the Security Classification and Management of Inmates Sentenced to Life Imprisonment took place on the 23rd of November, and ran all day. The Standing Committee on Law and Justice consisted of representatives from the major political parties, and heard submissions from government representatives, major victims’ support groups, and Justice Action. All key players were present including the Commissioner Peter Severin, The Hon Reginald Blanch AM QC who was speaking as the Chair of the Serious Offenders Review Council (SORC), and Dr John Paget, the Former Inspector of Custodial Services. Channel 9 and other observers were also present to record the proceedings. Please see below for links to the transcript and media reports on the inquiry so far:

Transcript: Inquiry into the Security Classification and Management of Inmates Sentenced to Life in Imprisonment 
Channel 9: Criminals Share What Life is Like on the Inside 
Huffington Post: Ex-convicts and Experts Ask Inquiry for Prison Overhaul 
Justice Action and Enough is Enough Online Counselling Proposal
Email stream of negotiations with Corrective Services showing no progress
Life Prisoners' Inquiry Index Page

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