The Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory is currently underway, investigating appalling conditions at the Don Dale Youth Detention Centre in Darwin that were revealed in an explosive Four Corners report last year.
Recently, at the hearings in Alice Springs, video evidence was tendered of former youth justice officer – i.e. detention centre guard – Conan Zamolo asking boys to perform oral sex.
The Snapchat videos show Zamolo going into a cell where several boys are in bed, and saying:
“Who wants to suck my dick? Which one of you boys wanna suck my dick?”
When one of them says “fuck off, you prick“, while hiding under a sheet, you can hear Zamolo say:
“Come suck my dick you little cunt.”
He then laughs.
Zamolo told the commission that he was just joking with the boys.
“I had a good relationship with the kids, that’s how they talk to each other … I wouldn’t have done it if I thought that they would’ve been offended by it, obviously I knew them quite well.“I knew they’d take it as a joke or just assumed they’d take it as a joke.”
Other videos show Zamolo urging a boy to eat a “little bit of shit” he’d found on a table, and bursting in to a bathroom where another boy was urinating.
Despite all of this, Zamolo told the commission that he had spoken to his supervisor about concerning conditions in part of Don Dale called the Behavioural Management Unit. He said he worried about the kids being “psychologically scarred” by their experiences there, saying that the place “just stank of filth and rubbish” and sometimes had the water turned off, and that boys often didn’t know how long they’d be held there for.
As more and more comes to light about Don Dale, it paints a pretty bleak picture – not only of torture and barbaric conditions, but of a broken culture that allowed someone in a position of power over underage kids to think that yelling commands to perform sex acts was “just a joke“.
The royal commission is ongoing.
Image: Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory.