Grandmothers seek to make their voices heard on the international level at the Sisters Inside conference as the torture and abuse of children continues inside Northern Territory detention centres.
Abuse in Youth Prisons in NT
TWO years on from Four Corners “Australia’s Shame" report detailing the abuse and torture of children in detention in the NT and the subsequent Royal Commission, childrens rights continue to be violated.
As of May 2018, in Alice Springs Youth Detention Centre (ASYDC) 95% of child prisoners were not convicted. Furthermore, 100% of incarcerated children in the Northern Territory are Aboriginal. Children continue to live in severely overcrowded cells with denied access to sunlight, exercise and education (as brought forward by a lawsuit against the Gunner government launched by the NT Legal Aid Commission). Additionally, children continue to experience verbal and physical assault at the hands of the guards and allegations of inappropriate sexual conduct against the children by detention centre staff continue to come to light. Self-harm and suicide attempts are ongoing, families are not notified of the health status of their children and there is no consultation when children are transferred between the Alice Springs and Darwin youth detention facilities, meaning that families are separated from their children by up to 2000KM. Children continue to be detained in these conditions despite the Royal Commission report, released in November 2017, stating that the youth detention centres in Alice Springs and Darwin are, "not fit for accommodating, let alone rehabilitating children".
What we’re doing about it
Directly following the Four Corners report families and residents of Mparntwe (Alice Springs) held weekly protests. Community voices were sustained through public forums, meetings and rallies in response to ongoing exposure of atrocities through the Royal Commission – advocating for Kids in Country Not in Custody. In 2018, The National First Nations Grandmothers Delegation (including Strong Grandmothers of the Central Desert) travelled to meet with Federal Minister Nigel Scullion, and Indigenous parliamentarians in Canberra to discuss youth imprisonment. In Mparntwe, Strong Grandmothers of the Central Desert Region continue to meet with Territory Families Minister Dale Wakefield to advocate for the restoration of children who are imprisoned and/or in custody of welfare. Community advocacy continues to play a significant role in holding a public space for accountability.
How you can help
This November, the international Sisters Inside conference 'Imagining Abolition' is taking place in Meanjin (Brisbane). The conference will focus on challening the structural racism of prisons and discussions on decarceration strategies going forward. As local activists, we will be sharing our experiences over the past few years, and seeking to learn from others to continue building our movement to shut youth prisons and have kids back on country.
We are hoping to raise $15000 to cover travel funds and accommodation for 10-12 people to attend the conference. Funds will assist formely incarcerated Indigenous women from Mparntwe, Strong Grandmothers of the Central Desert and Shut Youth Prison activists to travel to Meanjin. We are entirely self-funded; anything you can contribute towards this grassroots movement will assist us. Thank you.