NATSICC calls for quick and decisive action to change the system

 

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Catholic Voices

Official NATSICC Media Release August 2016

Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture - Devised by the UN, the protocols include a preventative mechanism again torture and cruel punishment. Australia signed it in2009 but has never ratified it. The UK signed  and ratified it in 2003. (Part IV in Articles 17-23)

Full NATSICC Article

Review of the Northern Territory Youth Detention System Report January 2015

 

 

 

 

 

Catholic Voices

 

"It is that betrayal of trust, that we thought we could take for granted, that so confronts us as a community, So many of us feel less as human beings today; we sense that we are all complicit in some vague way for trusting people to do what we considered to be the decent thing. Our response must be a total commitment to healing the harm done and commit ourselves to making sure that we have procedures in place to supervise systems that have demonstrated they cannot be trusted. This applies equally to Government, Church, Nursing Homes and any institution entrusted with the care of children or vulnerable adults." Bishop of Darwin, Eugene Hurley

 

"“I have always been treated with the utmost respect by the kids and to see this footage is heartbreaking. In many cases they are already damaged and the continued abuse only continues the cycle of institutionalisation. We need change. The systematic abuse on our children is wrong; our nation is hurting with all the suicides and the ongoing abuse through generational trauma.” Victorian NATSICC Councillor Sherry Balcombe

 

“We can’t divide society, and what was done to those youth despite their crimes makes me sick to the core, a breach of basic human rights. No child deserves this treatment” Former youth worker and NATSICC Councillor Dean Chisholm

 

“Those images have left me sick to the core, heart broken and devastated. For the last 3 Holy Thursdays I’ve washed those feet, for years I’ve enjoyed singing and praying with those kids, and at our last Service they acted out the Good Samaritan.” he said. “How utterly contrary is that to what Dylan, Ethan and the other boys have been through.  Just metres from one of the places where we had our Services were these horrendous cells I didn’t even know existed. I’ve lost faith in the system I’ve tried to work with. Over the years I've met many caring and dedicated staff but the current "jail" and system are grossly inadequate for these kids, things must change now.” Volunteer Catholic Chaplain Fr Dan Benedetti

 

Article

 

The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Catholic Council (NATSICC) and Catholic Church Leaders express our shock and devastation at the footage shown on the ABC 4 Corners program. Detailing abhorrent and inhumane treatment of young people in the Northern Territory’s Don Dale Correctional Facility, the footage has brought to light the betrayal of the trust that we place in the correctional system.

 

“It is that betrayal of trust, that we thought we could take for granted, that so confronts us as a community,” Darwin Catholic Bishop Eugene Hurley said. “So many of us feel less as human beings today; we sense that we are all complicit in some vague way for trusting people to do what we considered to be the decent thing. ”

 

Compounding the outrage is the fact that the continual calls for the criminal justice system to address the rate of youth incarceration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have been ignored - 97% of all youth detained in the Northern Territory are Aboriginal. Across Australia, young Aboriginal people are 26 times more likely to be in detention. The issue of mistreatment was raised on the front page of the Koori Mail on 23 September 2015, however it fell on deaf ears. Continual abuse requires silence and for good people to do nothing.

 

These children are as young as 10 and deserve a childhood. They deserve to be cared for and shown love, not only in the home but also when in institutional care. The footage raises so many questions – Why are these children in a correctional facility in the first place? How did this go on for so long? How can someone treat children like this? Can the hurt be healed? Could we have done anything to stop it?

 

The sense of guilt and betrayal extends to those working with young people in the Don Dale centre. Volunteer Catholic Chaplain Fr Dan Benedetti has been visiting the centre for several years - “Those images have left me sick to the core, heart broken and devastated. For the last 3 Holy Thursdays I’ve washed those feet, for years I’ve enjoyed singing and praying with those kids, and at our last Service they acted out the Good Samaritan.” he said. “How utterly contrary is that to what Dylan, Ethan and the other boys have been through.  Just metres from one of the places where we had our Services were these horrendous cells I didn’t even know existed. I’ve lost faith in the system I’ve tried to work with. Over the years I've met many caring and dedicated staff but the current "jail" and system are grossly inadequate for these kids, things must change now.”

 

NATSICC Victorian Councillor Sherry Balcombe volunteers at a youth correctional facility in Melbourne and was sickened by the footage. “I have always been treated with the utmost respect by the kids and to see this footage is heartbreaking. In many cases they are already damaged and the continued abuse only continues the cycle of institutionalisation. We need change. The systematic abuse on our children is wrong; our nation is hurting with all the suicides and the ongoing abuse through generational trauma.”

 

 “We can’t divide society, and what was done to those youth despite their crimes makes me sick to the core, a breach of basic human rights. No child deserves this treatment” former youth worker and NATSICC Councillor Dean Chisholm says.

 

Alternatives to incarceration that address the root causes of behavior need to be investigated and incorporated into the system. Options include restorative justice, rehabilitation, culturally appropriate healing and a focus on rebuilding the family unit/support networks of our young people. These measures have proven to be effective in reducing recidivism, an example being the Koori Court in Victoria where reoffending is on average 10% lower than the State’s average.

 

The Royal Commission must investigate whether a culture of cover ups and a lack of organisational empathy towards our young people is endemic throughout the criminal justice system. This must be addressed now, not left for a later date. The process of change must be immediate and across the board. Our young people cannot afford for us to wait. The Royal Commission needs to ENGAGE with the families and communities that are affected by incarceration.

 

As Australians we all have a responsibility to these young people. We cannot allow ourselves to become numb to the treatment of the vulnerable, invisible members of our society. Bishop Hurley believes that “our response must be a total commitment to healing the harm done and commit ourselves to making sure that we have procedures in place to supervise systems that have demonstrated they cannot be trusted. This applies equally to Government, Church, Nursing Homes and any institution entrusted with the care of children or vulnerable adults. “

 

 The mistreatment of the invisible is bordering on endemic and it needs to stop.

 

National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Catholic Council

'The peak Indigenous advisory body to the Catholic Church'

80C Payneham Rd.

Stepney SA 5069

www.natsicc.org.au   |   craig@natsicc.org.au   | 08 8363 2963

 

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