Last year, Australia was shocked by chilling footage of children abused at Don Dale Children’s Prison in the Northern Territory. Children were stripped, tear gassed, verbally abused and placed in solitary confinement for weeks on end.

Worse still, it’s not just Don Dale where kids were abused. In the past year Amnesty has seen allegations of cruel and inhuman treatment of children emerge from every state and every territory in Australia. Guards were found to use dogs to intimidate kids and, amidst many other serious allegations, sexual abuse was also uncovered.

It’s clear that children are not safe in Australian prisons. We need strong leadership now.

We need a National Plan of Action, led by the Federal Government, to stop kids getting trapped in the quicksand of our criminal (in)justice system in the first place and address the system’s unfairness at its roots. If we do it right, and back alternatives to prison that support kids to grow up strong and healthy in their communities we’ll give them a shot at a brighter future.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander kids are 25 times more likely to end up in the justice system than non-Indigenous kids. This puts them at greater risk of abuse in prison as long as a National Plan of Action doesn’t exist.

Call on Prime Minister Turnbull to be the leader we need. Urge him to work with Indigenous communities and to take the lead on a National Plan of Action that will end the abuse and over-imprisonment of Indigenous kids. Help give kids the opportunity to thrive.

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  Our Petition

Dear Prime Minister Turnbull,

Since your government established the Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory, serious findings and allegations of abuse of children in prison have emerged in every state and territory. We cannot escape that this is happening to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, who are 25 times more likely to be imprisoned than non-Indigenous children. National leadership is long overdue.

Now is the time for the Australian Government to work with state and territory governments through the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) to achieve this change, building on the findings of the Royal Commission’s final report. It is critical that this report is not shelved or ignored, like past inquiries.

We call on the Australian Government, in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities, to develop, resource and implement a National Plan of Action that includes:

  • supporting children, families and communities to stay strong together
  • raising the minimum age of criminal responsibility to 14
  • getting children who are not sentenced out of prison
  • adequate funding for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled legal services and other support services
  • ending abusive practices in prisons
  • setting targets to end the overrepresentation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in prison
  • improving collection and use of data
  • working through COAG to reform state and territory laws that breach children’s rights.

This plan must have the support of all sides of government, at all levels, to achieve real change.

We owe it to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander kids who have spent their childhoods behind bars and the next generation to ensure that they are supported to thrive in their communities, not suffer behind bars. We urge you to show national leadership at this historic opportunity for change.

Yours Sincerely,

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