The Territory’s Acting Children’s Commissioner has launched a scathing attack on the NT government’s proposed youth bail laws, calling for it to reconsider the controversial reforms.
In a statement, the Territory’s Acting Children’s Commissioner Sally Sievers said the proposed changes — to be introduced by the government on urgency in NT Parliament this week — would see more children and young people end up in detention.
“Resorting to this regressive and expensive policy direction has the potential to doom future generations of Territory children to a life within the justice system,” she said.
The Acting Commissioner also said “despite numerous requests” she had not been able to organise a meeting with Chief Minister Michael Gunner or the Police Minister Nicole Manison.
Ms Sievers told the ABC she had met with Families Minister Kate Worden but received “no details in relation to the legislation”.
But Ms Sievers said she would have expected to have seen details of the proposed changes before being introduced in Parliament and only had details from a media release issued on March 23.
“We haven’t seen any details of what the reforms would look like,” Ms Sievers said.
“We don’t have any information of who has been providing the information about what the evidence base is, what the impact of that legislation will be on Territory children.”
The government has previously said its proposed changes include “automatic” revocations of bail, the removal of the presumption for bail in more cases, new limits on access to youth diversion, and greater electronic monitoring powers for police.
Labor has said its changes will increase the number of young people being held on remand, with authorities preparing to refurbish disused sections of the Don Dale youth detention centre if required.
Mixed reaction to proposed reforms
The government’s changes have been backed by NT Police and the police union, but condemned by the youth detention royal commissioners, human rights organisations and Aboriginal legal and health services.
Ms Sievers said the proposed changes would have a “disproportionate impact on Aboriginal children and young people”.
She said the Office of the Children’s Commissioner and a number of other organisations including the Australian and New Zealand Children’s Commissioners and Guardians were calling for the NT government to reconsider the reforms.
“The national and international research says to keep our community safe and to address recidivism in young people that we should have the least possible number of children and young people in detention,” Ms Sievers said.
“… if a child is remanded … there’s something like a 33 per cent chance that they will return and they will actually commit a more serious offence the next time.”
On Tuesday a spokesperson for the NT government said the government had “extensively briefed” the Acting Children’s Commissioner when she met with the Minister for Territory Families.
“The Chief Minister also wrote to the Commissioner on the changes last month.”
Source: Thanks msn.com