Some good news from the Northern Territory: The newly-elected NT Government has, for the first time, appointed a Minister for Youth Justice, marking a clear intention to consider the distinct needs of children in contact with the justice system.
Earlier this week they also introduced legislation to ban the use of the horrific chair used to restrain that shocked the country when Four Corners went to air.
The Bill specifies that the only ‘approved restraints’ under the Youth Justice Act are handcuffs, ankle cuffs and waist-restraining belts. The Commissioner of Correctional Services must consent to the use of the approved restraints.
The NT Government also committed to reviewing its Youth Justice Act to bring it in line with contemporary standards, and to consult extensively before doing so.
“We also look forward to the new NT government consulting with Aboriginal organisations about a contemporary Youth Justice Act. We hope to see a new approach of supporting Indigenous led-programs that help children thrive in their communities, rather than setting them up to fail in the quicksand of the justice system,” said Julian Cleary, Indigenous Rights Campaigner at Amnesty International Australia.
All of these steps are promising signs of a brighter tomorrow!