Friday was the final day of the Royal Commission hearings in Alice Springs, which begun on Monday with Commissioner Margaret White Introducing Arrente Traditional Owners as “guests”.
One might expect more cultural awareness and respect from someone entrusted to determine recommendations to a system that specifically targets Indigenous youth, but hey, it was a good indication of the disappointment to come throughout the week if we were to go on expecting a British Colonial Institution (RC) to truly tackle the effects of another arm of British Colonial Institution (Corrections system) on First Nations Peoples.
#ShutYouthPrisons have been at the convention centre all week, responding to a call out from Dylan Voller to be alongside those who have suffered from the dehumanising and violent practices used in prisons; practices that have gone unnoticed and unchecked by managers and politicians; practices which are seemingly upheld by policies and laws.
#ShutYouthPrisons call for something different. Prisons cause harm where healing is required. The Royal Commission must hold those who have caused harm accountable and deconstruct the systems which perpetuate these practices, if it is to be worth the $150 million that it has cost.Stay tuned for a list of demands from to the Royal Commission.
Here you can listen to some audio from Monday’s rally
Quotes from throughout the week:
“I kept explaining that what I needed was sunshine and support from my family and friends, as some of my cousins were in Don Dale at the time, but I was ignored.” – former detainee identified as BF said when his mother died, he was placed in an ‘at risk’ room with blacked out windows for two days despite never threatening self harm.
“I think that 80 per cent of the detainees like me needed someone to talk to… I saw some kids lost without culture.” – BF advocated for culturally-informed activities and counseling .
“I can’t recall that” used over and over by many government employees typically in response to having done something appalling. This memory loss is sometimes accompanied with clear and concise memory for the things they hadn’t done. Convenient, hey?
“I deny that allegation” Derek Tasker in response to many damning allegations. The validity of his conviction was somewhat disturbed when he denied grabbing Dylan Voller by the neck, an incident captured on CCTV that had already been screened in the hearing room. Whoops.
Throughout the week NT Labor announced they were currently training 25 new guards, 11 women and 12 Indigenous, in a specialized rehabilitation focused course that goes for 6 weeks. It covers the impact of trauma on a young persons brain and is designed to reduce re-offending. This is a step in the right direction and should work along side policies that work towards the abolition of youth prisons.
Instead this week we also saw Labor passing legislation to introduce ankle monitoring bracelets for repeat offenders- a move Chief Minister Micheal Gunner states will “encourage positive behavior”, a grating assessment that brings to mind rolling a poo in sugar and presenting it with an insistent smile.
Shut Youth Prisons are looking into who has the contract to supply these devices, who is profiting off this breach of privacy and Orwellian method for control. Like jail, electronic tracking devices prevent people from actions out of force or intimidation, they deny the human right of liberty. This is a quick fix response bound to agitate the problem of crime in the long run and alienate and dehumanize the people forced to wear the device.
The Royal Commission resumes its hearing in Darwin on Monday 20/03/17 at the Supreme Court and can be streamed from the NTRC website