Territory Families forced to apologise over incorrect assault figures

by | Jun 23, 2021 | News | 0 comments

Territory Families has been forced to retract figures they provided of assaults on staff at Don Dale Youth Detention Centre, in an embarrassing error that the CLP jumped on to suggest Minister Kate Worden was “overwhelmed” with the portfolio.

The department, which manages youth detention, reported earlier that 83 cases of staff being assaulted by detainees had transpired between January 1 and April 9, 2021 at Don Dale alone.

But during Estimates hearings yesterday, the department’s deputy chief executive Jeanette Kerr was forced to reveal those figures were “grossly overinflated” and that there had been 72 assaults of staff by detainees between July 1, 2020 and March 31, 2021 at both Don Dale and the Alice Springs facility.

“I need to start off by apologising,” Ms Kerr told the hearing.

“The numbers you were given were for at that point, but (from) July 1, 2020, so it’s grossly overinflated,” she said.

“When I saw that I was really alarmed.”

The department clarified that there had been 12 assaults resulting in injury of staff and 29 assaults without injury at Don Dale in Darwin, and a further 11assaults with injury and 20 assaults without injury at the Alice Springs Youth Detention Centre in the nine months to March 31.

It remains unclear how the incorrect figure of 83 assaults at Don Dale was arrived at.

CLP Opposition spokesman for Territory Families Josh Burgoyne said the error was symptomatic of Ms Worden not being across her portfolios.

“The Minister is clearly overwhelmed with the responsibility of managing child protection and youth justice – and failing at both,” he said.

“It’s time for Youth Justice to be returned to Corrections so the Minister can focus on child safety, stamping out domestic and family violence, and early intervention for children at risk of entering the youth justice system.”

Mr Burgoyne added that the Gunner Government’s pre-election pledge to force young offenders to clean graffiti and other community service initiatives had not been kept.

“The Minister today confessed not a single community work program has been established in Alice Springs,” he said.

“Territorians are sick of talk. They want action. If the Gunner Government was actually interested in tackling youth offending it would implement the programs it promised more than 12 months ago.”

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