28 March 2019
The Law Society Northern Territory (the Society) supports the call today by the Law Council of Australia for the Commonwealth, State and Territory Governments to respond to and implement recommendations of the Australian Law Reform Commission's (ALRC) Pathways to Justice Report.
The Society’s President, Maria Savvas, said “The Pathways to Justice report was released a year ago today and its recommendations offer measures to address the over-incarceration of Indigenous people. This issue continues to be of serious concern in the Northern Territory with our incarcerated youth being almost exclusively Indigenous and our adult prisons filled with disproportionately high numbers of Indigenous people.”
“One recommendation of the Pathways to Justice report was the abolition of mandatory sentencing. This Territory government made a commitment prior to its election to abolish mandatory sentencing and more than 2 years later the community is still waiting for the government to honour its promise.”, Ms Savvas said.
The Society acknowledges the important work of the government with the establishment of its Aboriginal Justice Unit and the work toward an Aboriginal Justice Agreement for the Northern Territory but is
concerned by the government’s failure to implement the evidence-based recommendations made by the ALRC.
“The Territory government supported the ALRC inquiry, however on the anniversary of the release of its report we are still waiting for the Territory’s response to the report’s recommendations and action to implement those recommendations. We call on the Territory government to respond to the recommendations of the Pathways to Justice report and to take steps to see those recommendations become reality.”
End Of Release.
Tuesday 26th March 2019
The Law Society Northern Territory and Law Council of Australia have called on the Gunner government to honour its commitment to replace the Don Dale Youth Detention Centre with a new purpose-built facility as a matter of urgency.
The Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the Territory, released in November 2017, recommended Don Dale be closed and replaced to protect the safety and rights of children in detention.
The NT Government promised to implement all 227 Royal Commission recommendations, however, a year on Don Dale remains.
Law Society NT President, Maria Savvas, said the delay in building a new youth detention facility was concerning, especially given the Territory’s ballooning youth imprisonment rate.
“We trusted that the NT Government was acting in good faith to implement these measures as swiftly as possible, but it is taking too long – the delay is unacceptable,” Ms Savvas said.
“Every day of inaction is another day that children are being detained in a facility that is unsuitable, impacting on their physical and mental wellbeing.
“The Royal Commission provided a blueprint for urgent and much-needed reform – that can’t be pushed to the side while our young people are detained in a sub-standard facility.”
Law Council of Australia President, Arthur Moses SC, backed the calls of the Law Society NT, describing the process as ‘disgracefully slow’.
“The Australian legal profession is extremely concerned by reports that the NT Government has abandoned plans to build the new centre at a previously-identified site, with no alternative proposed,” Mr Moses said.
“Children are being held in a former adult prison facility, which was not fit for adults. When I visited Don Dale earlier this year, I was deeply troubled that despite the good intentions of staff at the centre, it was unsuitable for the care of young people.
“If the NT Government is struggling with either the resolve or capacity to follow through then the Commonwealth Government must step in to ensure this is fixed.
“We have written to the Prime Minister and Chief Minister regarding this matter.”
The Law Society Northern Territory (the Society) is deeply concerned by the bill introduced to parliament yesterday proposing regressive amendments to the Youth Justice Act 2005.
The Society’s President, Maria Savvas, said “These amendments to the Youth Justice Act 2005 are a retrograde step and bypass recommendations from the Royal Commission. The Society welcomed the amendments made to the Youth Justice Act 2005 in May 2018 as an important step toward achieving a youth justice system to the standard expected by the community and envisioned by Commissioners White and Gooda. It is bewildering why these amendments have had to be made on an urgent basis and to apply retrospectively.”
The Law Society Northern Territory (the Society) has expressed disappointment and concern at recent events at Don Dale Youth Detention Centre. Society President Maria Savvas said, “Six months ago we were heartened by the Northern Territory’s positive response to the Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory. We welcomed Michael Gunner’s announcement that his government had accepted the intent and direction of all 227 recommendations, and his commitment to reform our broken youth justice system. However, recent incidents in our youth detention centres, culminating in the serious disturbances at Don Dale this week, have badly shaken our confidence in the government’s capacity to make the changes required.
Nominations are now open for the 2018 NT Human Rights Awards.
There are Awards for an individual and organization in each of the four categories: Youth, Justice, Social Change and Diversity
Check out our website for the diverse array of former winners:
Nominate early, nominate often.
The President of the Society, Maria Savvas said "The Society is proud to launch this impressive publication, a 280-page coffee table style book, written and published by well-known and respected local historians Peter and Sheila Forrest. It is replete with wonderful photographs and compelling stories of the colourful men and women of our law. Theirs is a great Territory story."