The NT Government has placed the building of a new youth detention centre at Alice Springs on hold.
The government today said it would instead replace the Don Dale Youth Detention Centre and refurbish the existing Alice Springs Youth Detention Centre.
A new location for the Darwin centre has still not been selected.
The 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 the government said would 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.
- $60 million for the first new, purpose-built Youth Justice Centre in Darwin as the priority, in line with the recommendations made by the Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the NT.
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.
Territory Families Minister Dale Wakefield said the NT 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," Ms Wakefield said.
"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 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."
The Back on Track program is to involve Katherine but there is little detail yet.
While you're with us, you can now receive updates straight to your inbox each Friday at 6am from the Katherine Times. To make sure you're up to date with all the news, sign up here.