PM’s weak response exposes Indigenous kids to more abuse

Prime Minister Turnbull has failed to back Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion’s commitment on national youth justice change, leaving children around the country exposed to continuing abuse in prison.

During Question Time yesterday, Rebekha Sharkie MP gave Mr Turnbull the opportunity to “re-affirm today your government’s commitment to showing national leadership on youth justice, to end the abuse and overrepresentation of Indigenous kids in prison.”

She also asked for a deadline for the government’s full response to The Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory

Prime Minister Turnbull failed to answer either question.

Dodging and delays

“Eighteen days since Mr Scullion committed to leading national change on youth prisons, Prime Minister Turnbull is already trying to dodge accountability for our kids’ safety,” said Rodney Dillon, Indigenous Affairs Adviser at Amnesty International Australia.

“Every day our Prime Minister delays, children as young as 10 years old are suffering in every jurisdiction – and this abuse is 25 times more likely to happen to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander kids.”

“Young children’s lives are at risk under this injustice system. Mr Turnbull should be doing everything he can to make sure children are thriving, not locked up and abused.”

“Mr Turnbull cannot stand up in Federal Parliament and say children need dignity, respect and safety; while failing to recommit to changing the very system that separates our children from their families in harsh prisons,” said Rodney Dillon.

Holding PM Turnbull to commitment

Mr Scullion said, on the day the Royal Commission report was released, that his Government would develop a response, “not only here in the Northern Territory, but across every jurisdiction in Australia. Every other jurisdiction will be looking to the Northern Territory and the Commonwealth for leadership about change throughout our jurisdictions and I know that [Chief Minister Michael Gunner] and I are committed to working together to provide that leadership.”

“The federal government has committed to leading national change on the issue of youth justice, and we are holding them to that commitment – our kids deserve nothing less,” said Rodney Dillon.