MEDIA RELEASE: Indigenous Allied Health Australia Supports Royal Commission into NT Juvenile Detention

Indigenous Allied Health Australia (IAHA) a national not for profit, member based Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander allied health organisation supports the decision of the Commonwealth Government to establish a Royal Commission into Northern Territory juvenile detention and further calls for a broader inquiry into the youth justice system, taking into account complex social and cultural determinants that impact upon Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth.

IAHA joins the call of over 100 organisations in the Change the Record coalition for the Royal Commission to be conducted independently of the Northern Territory Government.

“The footage released in the Four Corners report is both shocking and appalling,” said IAHA Chairperson Dr Faye McMillan. “All young people whether in or out of the justice system, deserve to have access to fundamental human rights, and to be treated with humanity and respect.”

“We should not be concentrating on the blame game. We are talking about young people and a system that includes institutional racism that has let them down,” said Dr McMillan.

It has been 25 years since the release of the Royal Commission into Deaths in Custody, which amongst many others had 11 recommendations dedicated to Breaking the Cycle of Aboriginal Youth. This was handed down well before the young people featured in the Four Corners story were even born and yet they still face the same injustices.

“We are calling on the State, Territory and Federal Governments to listen to and collaborate with communities to help find solutions to increasing incarceration rates of youth, where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people are currently over represented.” Said IAHA CEO Ms Donna Murray. “We need to be investing in programs and health services aimed at prevention and early intervention led by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander allied health professionals are a critical part of the solution as they work in various sectors including justice, health, education and community services and have a unique cultural and professional lens”.

“A Royal Commission is a good start to highlight the extent of the systematic issues within the juvenile justice system identifying ways to improve it,” said Ms Murray. “However, this must not stall immediate action from taking place to ensure that the young people who featured in the Four Corner’s story and others who may still be suffering, receive the justice as well as the culturally safe and responsive care that they deserve.”

IAHA calls on the Commonwealth Government to keep the Terms of Reference of the Royal Commission broad and to look beyond the NT Juvenile Justice System to ensure that this miscarriage of justice is not impacting on any young person held in detention in Australia.

Racism and mistreatment of young people is not acceptable nor does it have a place in Australia.

Media Contact – Ms Donna Murray, IAHA CEO, (02) 6285 1010, www.iaha.com.au

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