National Day of Action against Youth Incarceration.
Alice Springs 11 October 2016
Today more than 100 people rallied at Todd Mall, Alice Springs against youth incarceration and torture. The national day of protest included actions in Darwin, Newcastle, Adelaide, and Sydney and coincided with the first day of the Royal Commission into youth detention in the Northern Territory. Speakers included Elaine Peckham, Doreen Carrol, Barbara Shaw, and Steve Bevis.
While views on the usefulness of a Royal Commission varied, speakers concurred that youth incarceration is a perpetuation of broader systemic oppression.
“It’s not only about [youth prisons] it’s about everything, it’s about health, it’s about education and it’s about how we’ve been treated through the intervention. It’s nearly 10 years since the Intervention took place, I was part of that in 2007 living on my homelands. So from 2007 onwards I never stopped speaking up for my rights. Our basic human rights! And look what it is doing to us everyday of our lives, it’s trying to dis-empower us. We believe that we have a voice so lets go out and use it.” said Elaine Peckham, Arrente Custodian and Human Rights Activist
“We demand that ..[the Royal Commission] focuses on the strengths of families, that it focuses on the strengths of communities, that it focuses on the strengths of Aboriginal culture. And we stop putting pathways in place that lead kids into detention, imprisonment, into a sense that normal is going to court normal is going to prison. That (Alice Springs) prison out there has 650 people in it; it was built for 450. We can’t allow another generation to think that prison is normal.” Steve Bevis, Minister for the Uniting Church
In 2014, 97 % of those in NT juvenile detention were indigenous.
“We have to keep the government accountable if they are going to take notice of a Royal Commission for our children. I think we may be stepping in the right direction. Make these prison guards and this system accountable for their actions against our children. Our future generation cannot be living in this kind of system where our children are getting treated this way. If you dont like what’s gone on in Don Dale speak out.” said Barb Shaw, who is encouraging people to share their stories with the Royal Commission
Speakers also shared simple initiatives that look towards community-based responses for youth justice.
“There was so many kids on the street last night. The government hasn’t put any Aboriginal people on the payroll for looking after kids in the street. Theres 2 policeman walking around. [We need] a couple of adults or elders just to come up to the kids and talk to them in language. I’ve been to the Royal Commission meeting and they’re not doing much at all. We’re all angry at the government how they’ve treated Aboriginal people and how we are treated today.” Doreen Carrol, Arrente and Luritja woman
Today was the 12th consecutive week of protest against the treatment of young people in Northern Territory detention facilities.
Speeches will be uploaded in full to our website