Detention Centre detainees set boy’s cell alight while he’s inside
DETAINEES at the Don Dale Detention Centre allegedly set another child's cell on fire while the boy was still inside.
The disturbing incident in July was one of four police have been called to at Don Dale in recent months, as staff warn they have lost control of the notorious youth detention facility.
Territory Families confirmed four detainees managed to gain access to a staff-only area on July 7.
Staff said they stole petrol before returning to the cell block and setting the boy's cell on fire while he was still inside.
Staff were able to remove the boy from his cell before he was injured, but they were then forced to abandon the centre as the fire spread and police were called in to control the situation.
Four detainees were taken to the Police Watch House and later charged with arson, but it's understood charges against two of those have since been dropped. Two others will face court later this month.
The incident has similarities with the riot that took place at Don Dale last month, where detainees stole petrol from a storeroom before setting the education block on fire.
Those two incidents were responsible for most of the $1.2 million in damage caused at Don Dale in the past six months.
Youth Justice Officers who work at Don Dale say the situation at the detention centre is becoming increasingly dangerous.
They say changes implemented since the Royal Commission into youth justice in the Northern Territory has led to a loss of control at the facility, with the safety of staff now at risk.
"There's been no consequences for violent behaviour in the past 12 months, from punching staff in the face to escapes or threatening staff," one whistleblower said.
"They've basically removed all consequences for poor behaviour."
Staff say major changes were made to the privileges system for detainees after the Royal Commission into Child Protection and Detention handed down its final report last November.
"It used to be early bed or loss of TV or loss of recreation time but that doesn't happen anymore. Now the behaviour is non-stop."
Growing tensions within the facility has led to high staff turnover with up to half of the new youth justice officers recruited in August already quitting their jobs.
Emergency service workers have also raised concerns after visiting the centre.
"I attended Don Dale last night while on shift to treat and transport a patient," one said in a Facebook post read out in parliament last week.
"From the moment we entered the security roller doors it became very evident how dangerous and vile this centre is.
"My partner and I were expecting another riot to start while we were on the scene, but no, that was normal behaviour.
"The anger, yelling and screaming at us did not stop. The absolute vile descriptive threats towards us were nothing shy of disgusting."
Families Minister Dale Wakefield last week told parliament the Government was sticking to its reform agenda, prompted by the Royal Commission.
"We are basing that on evidence we are basing that on the experience of our sector on the front line and we are basing that on the fact that we know that we all have to work together with a positive vision of how Territorians are safe, how our children are safe and how we are improving our community," she said.
"We cannot continue to not learn our lessons from history."
But deputy opposition leader Lia Finocchiaro said the Minister should be sacked.
"In Minister Wakefield's two years and this government's two years at the helm of Territory Families they have presided over a worsening youth crime crisis, violent episodes at Don Dale and Alice Springs Detention Centres, enormous amounts of wasted resources, tragic child protection failures and a paltry response to the Royal Commission," she said.