The Don Dale Youth Detention Centre should be shut down immediately, the Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory has recommended.

The final report for the Royal Commission was handed down this morning, almost 18 months after the Four Corners episode which sparked the commission was aired.

Other recommendations include raising the age of criminal responsibility from ten to 12, a shift in youth justice to increase diversion or therapeutic approaches, increased engagement with Aboriginal organisations and the development of a ten year strategy to address child protection and prevention of harm to children.

In a statement, co-commissioners Mick Gooda and Margaret White said the recommendations mark a “profound shift from past practice” in the Territory, but one they say is “necessary” in the face of “shocking and systemic failures” that were ignored “at the highest levels.”

They said the Territory’s detention system “failed to comply with basic binding human rights standards.”

In a joint statement, the Prime Minister, Attorney-General and Indigenous Affairs Minister said the Australian Government would “carefully consider” the findings directed at the Commonwealth, many of which they said had “wider implications” for all jurisdictions.

They also thanked the children, families and communities who shared their experiences and personal stories with the Royal Commission.

Speaking this morning, Labor Senator Pat Dodson said Australia deserves “international condemnation”.


Northern Territory Labor Leader Michael Gunner says the government failed children in its care.