Australia: Protest against abuse of children in detention shuts down Melbourne intersection

Australia juvenile abuse protest 1Neelima Choahan, The Age, July 31, 2016

Four women who locked themselves into a makeshift metal cage were preparing to spend the night on the corner of Flinders and Swanston streets to protest against the abuse of children of prisons.

On Saturday, police closed the intersection to all traffic, maintaining only a minimal presence to oversee the crowd of about 100 peaceful agitators.

The women’s action was part of a Warriors of Aboriginal Resistance rally held at the State Library of Victoria on Saturday afternoon where thousands had gathered calling “for justice for the children tortured in Don Dale and all prisons”.

It followed harrowing footage aired this week on ABC’s Four Corners program revealing the apparent abuse of children in custody in the Northern Territory

The footage showed youths being isolated in cells, strapped to mechanical chairs and six boys being tear-gassed at the Don Dale Youth Detention Centre in Darwin.

Meg, who was one of the women chained by her neck to the makeshift cell, said she wanted people to know what it was like for the boys held at the centre.

Australia juvenile abuse protest 2She had already spent eight hours in the metal cage and said would be there until their demands were met, which included shutting down the centre and sacking the Northern Territory government.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has announced a royal commission, to be led by NT Supreme Court chief justice Brian Ross Martin, into the abuse of youth in the Northern Territory corrections system.

But Melbourne rally organiser Meriki Onus said they were tired of royal commissions.

“If they implemented the recommendations from the royal commission into deaths in custody and the royal commission into the stolen generation, I don’t think we would be protesting here today,” she said.

Ms Onus said they were demanding the prime minister release teenager Dylan Voller from custody. Voller was shown in the Four Corners program hooded and shackled to a chair.

She said his was not an isolated story and Aboriginal people experienced continued systemic abuse.

“Putting traumatised kids in traumatised environments creates more trauma and more institutionalisation,” Ms Onus said.

“It almost ensues a lifetime of prison for these children.”

Protester Craig, who didn’t want to give his last name, said he had come down to the city from Bendigo with his daughter, 16-year-old Piper, to take part in the rally.

He said his family had come over on the second fleet and traced their ancestors to England. He believed they were part of the system that had created inequality for Australia’s Indigenous people.

As a father of a teenage son, Craig said was horrified to see the treatment of boys inside the Northern Territory prison.


Posted on July 30, 2016, in State Security Forces and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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