6 Febrary 2017: Dylan Voller is free from prison. After a court hearing considering parole, the judge determined that he could be released from prison and go to Bush Mob. After surviving such harsh conditions in Don Dale and then in the adult prison, Dylan can now see the sky. Congratulations to Dylan for being so strong and documenting the abuses in Don Dale, congratulations to his family who have fought so hard for this, and congratulations for everyone who gave a shit and organised and demonstrated and wrote letters and gave support in all the other ways.
Now for all other children held in prisons to be released. #ShutDonDale
Dylan Voller who was so brave to speak out about his abuse in Don Dale Youth Detention in the Northern Territory, who’s images of abuse shocked the globe with the abhorrent racist reality of Australian Corrections institutions, is still incarcerated. His family and supporters have serious fears for his survival. Together with his family and the help of a lawyer, we’re putting a call out for letters of support for his release. We also ask that when you write the letters you let his family know that you support them, you can do this by making a social media post using the hashtag #FreeDylanVoller or you can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll pass it on.
We are putting out a call for LETTERS OF SUPPORT to release Dylan Voller from prison. Dylan needs a healing, rehabilitative environment and not further abuse.
Scroll down to see points to include. You may want to send your letter to the following (and it helps to use formalities such as ‘To the Presiding Judge’ for the parole board- this is a proudly patriarchal system folks!):
- His Honour Justice Southwood, Chairperson of the NT Parole Board.
GPO Box 3946
Darwin NT 0801
Ph (08) 8999 6533
- Nigel Scullion, Senator for the NT and Minister for Indigenous Affairs
PO Box 40021, Casuarina NT 081 OR PO Box 4449, Alice Springs NT 0870
- Michael Gunner, Chief Minister and Minister for Aboriginal Affairs
PO Box 11, Parap, NT 0804
Business phone : 08 8999 6437 Business fax : 08 8941 2661
- Dale Wakefield, Minister for Territory Families
If you know Dylan and/or his family in some way it’s good to mention that in your letter.
If you have any ‘qualifications’ that might make white educated middle class mostly male conservative folks take your word more seriously, helps to say that.
Here are some points you may want to make, we have checked these out with Dylan’s family and a lawyer. It would have more impact if you can make a few changes so these points are in your own words in some way:
- Dylan has been subject to abuses, and what might constitute torture whilst in detention. This includes being forcefully stripped naked, being held in a hogtie position, being carried by his neck, being thrown across a room, being knocked to the floor, being exposed to CS gas for 8 minutes, being placed in a restraining chair, which have since been banned, being placed in a spit-hood ‘which has the potential to be inhumane and cause harm’ (Children’s Commissioner Report 2015), and being isolated for up to 5 days. Other children detained alongside Dylan have said that guards targeted him, including that guards encouraged other detainees to taunt Dylan.
- The effects of Dylan’s imprisonment given the above circumstances are also having huge impacts on his family’s mental health and wellbeing. His family have been disconnected from him because of the huge distance to where he is held, and due to prison procedures, have very limited opportunity to communicate by other means, and no privacy when doing so. This also impacts on the ways Dylan can experience connection and belonging, and the supports that his family can offer during hard times. His family have huge anxieties and suffer the effects of the abuses Dylan has faced in detention, which will not cease until he is living back in the community.
- The footage shown by the Four Corners report shocked the nation for a reason, these abuses are extremely distressing to watch and read about. Had these abuses been perpetrated by a child’s family, the child would be removed from the care of their family. No one has been held accountable for these abuses, no charges have been brought against the guards involved. This is a chance to go some way to redress the harms that have been done here.
- Dylan is due to give evidence to the Royal Commission. Dylan has spoken out in the past and he has been targeted by prison guards and has experienced less safety as a direct result. Dylan may not feel safe to speak openly to the Royal Commission while he remains in prison, his confidentiality will not be protected and Dylan may suffer further targeting which will put him at risk of further harm.
- Dylan had a meeting scheduled with the parole board, but they decided that the plan for his release back into the community was not satisfactory. It is not clear what was missing for this plan to not be satisfactory. It is suggested that a period of parole in a placement with ‘Bushmob’ in Alice Springs, where Dylan can have more regular contact with family and other community members, will be a more supported transition back into community than completing his sentence in prison and being released directly into the community from there (it is well documented that there are many challenges facing people being released from prison, as discussed by Borzycki, 2005), and as such a period of transition is preferable.
- Dylan is now in adult prison and I am concerned that he will be exposed to and in contact with other men who have developed ways of being with each other that are very far removed from the rehabilitative environment that would see Dylan starting to heal and find more respectful ways of relating to be a positive member of our community. ‘Incarcerated persons often suffer long-term consequences from having been subjected to pain, deprivation, and extremely atypical patterns and norms of living and interacting with others’ (Haney, 2001). What we understand from neurobiology of trauma is that the abuses Dylan has been subject to in this environment require him to have repeated experiences of connecting, caring relationships in order to heal from this trauma. Dylan will not receive this if he remains in prison.
Suggestion: If you’re into it, making a letter writing event in your immediate community is a great way to start the conversation around supporting Dylan and other young people in the corrections system, and how we can work towards abolishing youth prisons.
Borzycki, M. 2005. Interventions for Prisoners Returning to the Community. A Report Prepared by the Australian Institute of Criminology for the Community Safety and Justice Branch of the Australian Government Attorney General’s Department.Canberra: Australian Institute of Criminology.
Haney, C 2001. From prison to home: the effects of incarceration and reentry on children, families and communities. The Psychological Impact of Incarceration: Implications for Post-Prison Adjustment. Available online: https://aspe.hhs.gov/basic-report/psychological-impact-incarceration-implications-post-prison-adjustment