Around the country on July 30, Aboriginal rights groups staged a national demonstration following the release of harrowing footage of Aboriginal youth being brutalised in Northern Territory detention centres, particularly Don Dale in Darwin.
The rallies supported: Urgent calls from Joanne Voller, to free her son Dylan Voller immediately, Dylan is the young man subjected to many years of abuse, who is still being held in prison in Darwin; Dylan Voller’s request to the NT Chief Minister (former Corrections Minister) to personally apologise to the youths mistreated in custody and to their families; The sacking and prosecution of the corrections staff who perpetrated these abuses; The call from the combined Aboriginal organisations of the NT for Prime Minister Turnbull to immediately sack the NT Government and force new elections, along with demands for the immediate resignation of Commonwealth Minister Nigel Scullion; The shut down of juvenile prisons; and Aboriginal organisations to be empowered and properly resourced to deal with youth justice issues in ways which provide healing and positive opportunities for youth currently (or are at risk) of being locked up in prisons.
The rallies highlighted similar abuses of Aboriginal children taking place nationally in both ‘child protection’ placements and child prisons. The system of juvenile incarceration is fundamentally racist, with more than 50 per cent of inmates across Australia and 97 per cent of inmates in the NT being Aboriginal.
Anita Goon Wymarra, Aboriginal woman from the organsing group of the Brisbane rally, Warriors of the Aboriginal Resistance (WAR), said:
“The reality of what our youth are forced to endure in detention is harrowing. Their existence has been completely disregarded and it is only natural that our people stand up on the streets, in our communities and resist this torture. We will not stop until these injustices are rectified nationwide.”
People from a broad spectrum of backgrounds are both furious and deeply saddened by the images seen on Four Corners. We need that translated into a real grassroots movement that can push for change. We call on families and people with compassion and empathy to continue to support this movement to help ensure this brutality never happens again. To stay up to date with these issues, follow #HandsOffAboriginalKids and #ShutDownDonDale on all social media platforms.