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NT brutality fracturing the jigsaw of Australia

By John Hargreaves - 1 August 2016 26

Dale1 

Those images of kids being brutalised in the NT on Four Corners reflect the mindset of some of those entrusted with the care of juvenile offenders and those on remand.

We closed the Quamby centre in Symonston for one very good reason. Juvenile offenders should not be treated in the same manner as adult offenders.

Rehabilitation and restoration of offenders requires different approaches for adults, juveniles, males and females. Adults have their social standards, their attitude towards right and wrong, their ethics already fully formed. The understanding of consequence is complete. Adults have a fully formed thinking and decision making organ – the brain.

Juveniles do not have a fully formed brain and their standards, ethics, attitudes towards right and wrong, their notions of consequence are not fully developed.

In essence, society must often desocialise serial adult offenders and resocialise them. That is, to remove their developed understandings of how things are and replace them with another understanding, that of the wider community. How things should be.

However, with juveniles, as their development is not complete, it is possible to change their direction without the complete desocialisation process.

Many juveniles are victims of poor family relationships, some have suffered abuse, some have been exposed to poor citizenship examples, often outright criminality. All of them suffer diminished self-esteem.

Dale2

I need to laud the work of Duncan Smith of the Wiradjuri Echoes. Duncan got an OAM for his services to indigenous youth here in Canberra but few know of his work. He is concerned that the young blokes follow the footsteps of their elders. Now if the elders are engaged in anti-social or criminal behaviour, the young fellows will follow. Duncan is attacking the notion of a jail sentence being a rite of passage for young indigenous boys by providing a mentoring system based on positive community involvement and service. In short his main aim is to install self-belief, restore and encourage self-esteem and separate the young people from the fictional heroic notion of anti-social and criminal behaviour. He is giving them a reason not to use drugs, to believe in themselves.

He is changing the direction of these young people, not locking them up.

When I visited the jail in Darwin and Alice Springs, when on a committee considering a jail for the ACT, I was told that there were three generations of indigenous men in the prisons there. This did not include the juvenile system which I didn’t visit.

It is also academically accepted that for rehabilitation programs to work, the way people absorb information must be applied. Women respond to suggestions for change in a group session, surrounded by support. Men respond better on a one-on-one basis with someone that they respect and that they like/love and that they don’t want to upset. In essence, they seek individual support and respect.

The ACT went through the soul-searching when Quamby closed and Bimberi opened. Changes were made not only to the programs and facilities but also the philosophy of behaviour change.

Bimberi

What we saw in the NT program is disgusting, brutal, racist and most of all, what we saw enhanced our belief that the system in the NT will entrench the notion of rite of passage, will entrench the diminution of self-esteem in indigenous youth, increase the level of anger and ensure that the lives of those young ones are cut short, often by their own hands.

On top of it all, the treatment of young men with such overt brutality should make us all sick. When three large men attack a teenager in a cell, and brutalise that young person, physically and psychologically, there can only be one outcome. Disaster.

Those men should be dealt with using the full extent of the law and they should be incarcerated for long periods. But I wonder if the attitude of the corrections officers, indeed the juvenile justice system, can be changed. I doubt it when the system applies the same approach to juveniles as adults.

Royal Commissions are usually blame games but often throw up recommendations for change. The Royal Commission into Black Deaths in Custody made hundreds of recommendations and to a large extent, notice was taken of those recommendations. One can see only too easily though, that the NT system completely ignored all of them.

What part of a big armed white guy, with complete authority, brutalising a defenceless teenager is a good idea? What part of a group of big, armed white, guys with complete authority, brutalising a lone, defenceless teenager, is acceptable to any one of us?

What has to happen before people understand that teenagers need help not brutality? They need compassion, encouragement, positive mentoring, esteem building and expressions lifting their notion of self-worth.

To deny this to young people because they are indigenous is disgusting to the nth!

Each one of these kids represent a piece the jigsaw of Australia. When complete, that jigsaw is priceless. Take one piece away, because that kid took his/her own life, and the jigsaw has a hole in it and is worthless.

What’s Your opinion?


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26 Responses to
NT brutality fracturing the jigsaw of Australia
dungfungus 10:13 am 06 Aug 16

rommeldog56 said :

I agree with the bulk of this article but this a children’s issue and about every child who experienced the abuse of Don Dale. The royal commission will focus on the institutional practices and do little to reduce the number of children who are incarcerated in the NT juvenile detention centre.

Over a year ago Tjillari Justice put a proposal to both the ACT Govt and the Federal Minister for Indigenous Affairs which advocated for a service to address the trauma and toxic stress children suffered in fractured families.This stress and trauma impact on the healthy development of social, emotional and neurological development of the child. Both Govt fobbed us off with lame excuses. The recent airing of the Dunedin Study consolidates that this is an approach that can change children’s lives and break the cycle of inter generational offending.

How sad our politicians care so little and continue to bury their heads in the sand hoping the problems will solve themselves. Shame, shame , Shame

I agree that removing these children from the toxic environment is probably the only way to save them from being institutionalised after they become uncontrollable criminals but isn’t that going to create another generation of “stolen children” so you can see why politicians are averse to doing anything.
Perhaps the first generation of “stolen children” were the “saved children” after all.

gazket 11:43 pm 05 Aug 16

you only have to American police and jail programs and they use spit regularly.

gazket 11:42 pm 05 Aug 16

as AGAIN the ABC only tells part of the story and cannot be believed on anything nowdays.

devans115 3:52 pm 05 Aug 16

I agree with the bulk of this article but this a children’s issue and about every child who experienced the abuse of Don Dale. The royal commission will focus on the institutional practices and do little to reduce the number of children who are incarcerated in the NT juvenile detention centre.

Over a year ago Tjillari Justice put a proposal to both the ACT Govt and the Federal Minister for Indigenous Affairs which advocated for a service to address the trauma and toxic stress children suffered in fractured families.This stress and trauma impact on the healthy development of social, emotional and neurological development of the child. Both Govt fobbed us off with lame excuses. The recent airing of the Dunedin Study consolidates that this is an approach that can change children’s lives and break the cycle of inter generational offending.

How sad our politicians care so little and continue to bury their heads in the sand hoping the problems will solve themselves. Shame, shame , Shame

dungfungus 9:18 pm 04 Aug 16

How did Four Corners miss that?
Were they wearing a hood too?

Acton 5:24 pm 04 Aug 16

From the 2014 case involving the same youth:

Para 66: “As the use of force was lawful (on the prosecution case) and the duration of the application of force was not excessive (as I have found) then it would seem to follow that to be unlawful the level of force used must be excessive.”

Para 80: “In all the circumstances of the case I am not satisfied that the prosecution have proved beyond all reasonable doubt that Tasker applied unreasonable and/or unnecessary force to Voller. I therefore am unable to find that Tasker “unlawfully” assaulted Voller.”

http://www.nt.gov.au/justice/ntmc/judgements/2014NTMC02PolicevTasker.htm

gizmo1 2:44 pm 04 Aug 16

mmmmmm

Pretty sure an adult in jail who constantly spat on a guard would get similar styled anti spiting hood. Whether they are black or white does not matter one jot, they are violent offenders and no doubt have earned the treatment dished out.

Why should any guard, colour of their skin matters not, be spat on just because its un PC to gag the little darlings? Spit on a guard or coppers face on the street or in the big boys jail & see how far that gets you.

Masquara 8:06 pm 01 Aug 16

I’m sure there are some qualms about to what extent the Commission will be able to crack open just why these kids didn’t have safe homes to return to at night. That’s an element to this puzzle that is tiptoed around.

dungfungus 5:14 pm 01 Aug 16

I didn’t watch the ABC Four Corners “presentation” but it is hard to avoid the selected grainy video on other media.
What a huge beat up.
It’s sure to win Ms Ferguson another Walkley which is really what it is all about.
By the way, I didn’t see any aboriginal kids in the video; well they they didn’t look the same as the ones I grew up with in western NSW but then those lads were well behaved despite the social hardships they had to endure like the rest of us..

chewy14 1:25 pm 01 Aug 16

Yes, of course we need to mention the “whiteness” of the guards don’t we John? Clearly relevant.

Although it’s interesting that you mention the story about the generations of people inside detention, it’s clearly a major issue. The fact that we have a cycle of incarceration where children see their parents and grandparents constantly committing crimes and constantly being detained. And they see it as normal and grow up accordingly.

At what point do people lose the right to have children or have custody of them? How do we break the cycle of crime when there is no escape for these children?

But we can’t talk about that, can we.

HenryBG 1:09 pm 01 Aug 16

Arthur Davies said :

Regardless of whatever someone has done they should never be subjected to this abuse.

Which abuse is that, precisely? Having a spithood put on you because you keep spitting at people? Or being strapped to a chair because you are threatening self harm?

Arthur Davies said :

I heard one of the guards say ‘ that will learn ya” what does this say about his suitability for this job.
God help us is all I can think.

I’d prefer to worry about the victims of Voller’s numerous violent crimes first and foremost, and hope they are doing alright.

As for the guards at Don Dale – clearly these guys are the real victims here. I think their mums didn’t love them enough and they need help. Poor guys, I am disgusted at the vilification these guards are being subjected to through no fault of their own.

Mysteryman 12:43 pm 01 Aug 16

“What we saw in the NT program is disgusting, brutal, racist…”

I didn’t see the program. Was the abuse only directed at indigenous children?

london 10:46 am 01 Aug 16

Regardless of whatever someone has done they should never be subjected to this abuse.
The people in charge are displaying criminal behaviour. It beggars belief that anyone condones this.
The person shown dressed in black should be immediately charged with assaulting a minor and all staff dismissed. Their intelligence and training has to be questioned or do they feel it’s ok to treat aboriginal people in such a way. All of Australia should be up in arms over this abuse.
I heard one of the guards say ‘ that will learn ya” what does this say about his suitability for this job.
God help us is all I can think.

dungfungus 10:31 am 01 Aug 16

Obviously John hasn’t read the rap sheet of the “victims”.
Why don’t you offer to foster home them John?

BooUrns 9:23 am 01 Aug 16

I agree with the article, why do you feel the need to play the white is evil card ” big armed white guy,” you used this term twice why not just say big armed guard etc.

If the guard was indigenous you wouldn’t say big black armed guard would you as that’s racist.

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