Abuse of Aboriginal children in detention does not happen in a vacuum, or without the collusion of the society that builds and runs ‘juvenile justice’ centres. Mike Seccombe has written an excellent article in The Saturday Paper explaining how successive Northern Territory governments have channelled federal funding into predominantly white electorates and away from Aboriginal communities.
Seccombe draws on analysis by John Taylor, of ANU’s Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research. He also quotes Jon Altman, of RegNet and the Alfred Deakin Institute for Citizenship and Globalisation, who emphasises the money spent on ‘locking people up rather than investing in their health, education and development’.
John Braithwaite has written about what changes we might expect from the Royal Commission into Don Dale Detention Centre, and about alternative approaches to justice, on his War ∙ Crime ∙ Regulation blog. In another post for John’s blog, Valerie Braithwaite highlights the contributions of people like Sharynne Hamilton, who completed an Indigenous internship with RegNet and is now researching Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders among children in the criminal justice system in Western Australia.
Sharynne believes that institutionalised racism affects Aboriginal children from the start of their lives, but that empowering Aboriginal communities would have a hugely positive impact:
I would love to see big programs on country. The kids love their families, their communities, they love fishing swimming hunting – often with an older person in the community like grandad. They are excellent at sport, excellent at art, and love music. But none of this is nurtured. And if they are going to be healed it has to be – and could be – easily!
To highlight the plight of Aboriginal children involved with the justice system beyond the Northern Territory, Sharynne has passed on this short video.