Andy Kenyon, Red Cross Executive Director for the Northern Territory, said: “If we never want to see another child hooded and strapped to a chair, the solution doesn’t start in prison.
“A much better alternative is to divert vulnerable young people away from a life of crime. This not only prevents potential abuse in detention facilities, but keeps us all safer.”
Red Cross made several recommendations in a submission to the Royal Commission. They cover reforms to the law such as increasing the age of criminal responsibility from 10 to 12, as well as calls to increase funding for services that support young people.
Mr Kenyon said: “There are several good models in place that should be sustainably expanded.
“In Broome, for example, boys identified by the police as being in need of support have joined the Young Warriors program. The boys now regularly get out of town and reconnect with on country. Many of them now see the role they can play in supporting their friends, and are working towards a safer, crime-free future.”
Red Cross also recommends support for people at every step, from family support and early intervention through to programs that will divert young offenders away from prison and support young people who have committed crimes to stop.
Mr Kenyon said: “It can’t simply be a punitive approach that leads to more damage and abuse.
“Many of the young people Red Cross deals with are at the beginning of what has the potential to be a lifetime of crime and imprisonment but with support and enormous personal effort they are re-engaging in education, work and volunteering.”