Northern Territory Government Newsroom

BUDGET 2019: Investing in the Territory’s Youth Detention Centres

Developing a stronger youth justice system that ensures young people face the consequences of their actions and get on a better path is a priority of Budget 2019.

It will include investments to replace the Don Dale Youth Detention Centre and refurbish the existing Alice Springs Youth Detention Centre.  

The Territory Government has made the decision not to proceed with a new site and a new build for the Alice Springs Youth Justice Centre in the short to medium term.

A number of sites in Alice Springs were investigated as potential locations for a new youth justice centre. Following a thorough assessment process, the sites were found unsuitable. The preferred site options raised issues which include proximity to residential areas and did not meet community expectations and needs.

The existing infrastructure at the Alice Springs Youth Detention Centre will be redeveloped to better meet the needs of at-risk young people, detention centre staff, and visitors. Construction work will begin later this year.

A 10 Year Strategic Youth Justice Infrastructure Masterplan is currently being developed for the Northern Territory, which will ensure a long-term and sustainable approach to the delivery of youth justice services.

Investments for the youth detention centre infrastructure include: 

·         $10 million for new amenities and infrastructure at the Alice Springs Youth Detention Centre.   Refurbishments include an expanded footprint to support rehabilitation programs. This will include new facilities for one-on-one and group meetings, more space for education, training, and outdoor education. Replacing the Alice Springs Youth Detention Centre was not a recommendation of the Royal Commission.

Additional key investments to improve youth detention centres include:

·         $2.25 million for upgrades of CCTV cameras at both Don Dale and Alice Springs Youth Detention Centres.

The CCTV upgrades include an increase in surveillance cameras and data storage capacity, which is transferrable to future Youth Justice Centres. 

·         $1 million for upgrades to electrical, fire and mechanical services at the Alice Springs Youth Detention Centre

·         $993k to improve and maintain the facilities at the Don Dale Youth Detention Centre

·         $902k to upgrade the female accommodation at the Don Dale Youth Detention Centre

These upgrades will improve the functionality of the female spaces, allow for increased privacy and safety for young females.

Quotes from Minister for Territory Families, Dale Wakefield

“The Territory Labor Government is overhauling what was a broken youth justice system to create generational change.  If we don’t invest now to reform the youth justice system and put young people back on the right track, the cost to Territorians will be far greater in the long-term.

“Following community and stakeholder consultations, we have made the decision not to proceed in the short term with a new Alice Springs Youth Justice Centre. The preferred site options raised issues which include proximity to residential areas and did not meet community expectations and needs.

“The refurbishment at the Alice Springs Youth Detention Centre will ensure that the infrastructure supports rehabilitation programs and that time spent in detention can be used to get young people back on track.

“The Territory Labor Government is also investing in preventative programs to stop young people getting into trouble in the first place. If they do, alternatives to detention give them a pathway to a productive future instead of a funnel into an adult jail. This includes the new Back on Track program, as well as other early intervention and prevention programs and services such as the Breaking the Cycle youth crime plan in Alice Springs.”


Media contact:

Paige Nguyen 0428 727 244
paige.nguyen@nt.gov.au