Dylan Voller Asked ‘Q&A’ Why More Young Offenders Face Detention Than Rehab

Few people are as uniquely qualified to criticise the Northern Territory’s youth detention system as Dylan Voller, whose experiences at the Don Dale Youth Detention Centre helped spark a royal commission into the sector. 

He was able to draw from that experience last night, asking the Q&A panel why young offenders are overwhelmingly funnelled into detention, as opposed to community rehabilitation programs.

“There is a great rehab centre here in Alice Springs and at Loves Creek Station called BushMob,”
Voller said.

“Why can’t we have more youth detainees from the juvenile centre to go there where they can work with horses, and learn to build, instead of sitting in a cell with no rehabilitation?”

Charles Darwin University researcher Dr Josie Douglas responded, initially saying she didn’t know why young offenders were so often unable to first access rehabilitative services. 

She did say the Territory’s history of punitive measures and focus on “tough love” played a role, and admitted that rehabilitative services also needed to play a role.

Regarding BushMob – where participants under the age of 25 are met with “responsible and realistic mentors for young people,” and participate in a variety of therapies – NT Labor MP Warren Snowdon said “it’s something which, as a model, has proven to be very, very effective.”
Snowdon elaborated, saying “the punitive models just doesn’t work. We know that. Locking kids up is not the answer.”
Queensland Independent MP Bob Katter, whose Division Of Kennedy spans much of the NT’s eastern border, railed against the taxpayer cost of keeping a child in detention. He said his party would announce a new policy on the issue shortly, promising there’d be “no more of this stupidity.”

“Putting a kid in a steel cage like an animal, for having gone on a joy-ride with his big brother because he wasn’t game not to, seems to me to be eminently unfair and unjust.” 
The royal commission is expected to hand down its findings on the NT’s youth detention sector on September 30 – and the responses to Voller’s questions, from a variety of sources, suggest a broad sentiment that there is a more holistic way of rehabilitating young offenders.

Source and photo: Q&A / ABC.