Northern Territory Government Newsroom

Safer Communities: Plans Announced for New Youth Justice Facilities in Darwin and Alice Springs

A major step in fixing the Territory’s broken youth justice system will occur with today’s announcement of a new youth justice centre in Darwin, as well as a preferred site for an Alice Springs facility.

The November 2017 final report of the Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the NT stated Don Dale is not fit to put young people back on the right path and out of the cycle of crime, and that it needed to close.   

The Territory Labor Government accepted this recommendation, which included reporting to the Children’s Commissioner within three months on a program to close the Don Dale Youth Detention Centre. 

Minister for Territory Families, Dale Wakefield said that Government has gone one step further to include the closure of the Alice Springs Youth Detention Centre, as it is not fit for purpose. She said that the two new youth justice facilities will mark a new beginning and deliver better results for rehabilitating at-risk children in the NT.

“We need to get at-risk children on the right path to stop this cycle of crime that’s been happening for too long - that’s why we are undertaking the most comprehensive overhaul of the youth justice system in Northern Territory history,” Ms Wakefield said.

“The Report was a reminder of our failure to care for and rehabilitate those who need it most. We have promised the children and families of the Territory that our reforms will focus on getting them on the right path, not completely break them.”

Ms Wakefield said the Territory Labor Government has already announced $50 million to respond to the Royal Commission recommendation in addition to the $20 million already allocated.  She called on the Commonwealth Government to do them same after they announced they will not put in $1 extra.

“We are taking action to fix the problems highlighted in the Report while the Australian Government has walked away and is all talk and no action,” Ms Wakefield said.

“CLP President and Senator Nigel Scullion and CLP Leader Gary Higgins have backed Canberra and are telling them not to help. They have walked away from the Territory’s most vulnerable and at-risk children – it’s shameful.”

New Darwin facility: 

Ms Wakefield said the NT Government has selected a site in Darwin to develop a new youth justice facility to replace Don Dale Youth Detention Centre which will be bulldozed.

“The new facility will be on the existing Berrimah site. This block of land has been selected due to its serviceability, accessibility by service providers, ownership and size. The new Darwin site will support approximately 30 young people in cottage-style, secure accommodation with scalability built-in to design,” she said.

“Infrastructure design will commence next month, with construction to commence early 2019 and be completed by mid-2020. Detained youths will remain in their existing facility while the old Don Dale is bulldozed and the new facility built.”

Aboriginal community-controlled organisation Danila Dilba Health Service was involved in the consultation with young people about selection of the Darwin location. CEO Olga Havnen said that the Berrimah site was highly recommended.

“Danila Dilba welcomes this announcement to establish a new youth facility at the existing location – Don Dale. Redevelopment of the existing site was strongly recommended by young people as availability of public transport for family visitors was a key consideration,” Ms Havnen said.

New Alice Springs facility: 

Ms Wakefield said Government is in preliminary discussions with Desert Knowledge Australia to consider co-locating a new youth justice facility within the precinct in Alice Springs.

Details on the site selections:

 82 hectare site at Berrimah in Darwin

-         Site enables an efficient development timeframe. Simultaneously the unused infrastructure can be demolished whilst maintaining interim infrastructure and developing the new facility

-         None of the existing infrastructure will be re-used in the future infrastructure solution, yet the size of the site allows for a progressive infrastructure development, where the need for secure facilities is met at all times

-         The site is zoned appropriately, has the right scale and serviceability, and meets all the considerations for a future youth justice training facility

-         Visioning workshops along with further consultation (with Aboriginal-controlled organisations, the NGO sector, government stakeholders, design specialists and community members) to inform infrastructure will commence in March 2018, with construction expected to commence by early 2019 and be completed mid-2020.

-         New facilities to replace the Don Dale Youth Detention Centre will complement the broader package of associated support infrastructure that provides alternatives to detention including supported bail accommodation and diversion programs

Preferred site in Alice Springs

-         Preliminary discussions are occurring with Desert Knowledge Australia (DKA) to consider co-locating a new youth justice training facility within the precinct

-         The benefits of DKA as the chosen site would include the potential for Aboriginal organisations to be a part of the new model which supports young people by focusing on culture and connectedness to family, along with education and training, while leveraging the expertise available at the Desert Knowledge Precinct

Media Contact: Paige Nguyen 0428 727 244


Report on Program Closure of Don Dale

Letter to the Children's Commissioner

Site Map - Darwin Youth Justice Centre