NT Government to pay former youth detainees $35 million in abuse settlement

by | Jul 29, 2021 | News | 0 comments

The NT Government has agreed to a $35 million payout to young people who claimed to have been assaulted and mistreated while incarcerated in the Territory’s youth detention system.

The government initially tried to suppress the figure, which is widely believed to be the largest class action settlement in the NT’s history, but the court rejected its argument for suppression.

The settlement is expected to cover roughly 1200 former detainees of the Don Dale Youth Centre, but is open for anyone who claims they have been mistreated while in youth detention between 2006 and 2017.

The settlement comes without the NT Government admitting liability.

Territory Families Minister Kate Worden said the $35 million had been drawn from different areas across the government.

“It will figure in our annual reports next year,” she said.

“We acknowledge the stain this historic event has had on the Northern Territory.

“It will be settled for $35 million, inclusive of costs, and this historic case will be put to bed.”

The settlement is the result of a class action launched by two lead applicants who claimed they were assaulted and falsely imprisoned while in youth detention facilities in Darwin and Alice Springs.

The lawsuit was led by law firm Maurice Blackburn.

The firm said in a statement that the settlement was “an important acknowledgement of the pain caused to hundreds of young people”.

“While in detention, these young people were subjected to appalling treatment that included excessive force, handcuffing, strip searching and isolation in cells,” he said.

“These young people may have broken the law but they did not deserve to be broken by the law.”

The abuses were the subject of a 2016 ABC Four Corners episode that led to a Royal Commission.

Ms Worden said the government is still implementing the 218 recommendations of the Royal Commission, with 158 implemented and another 57 “underway”. She said that the government has run “a very, very reformed system since that time”.

The settlement was agreed to in May.

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