For kids behind bars, every day is an eternity spent wondering when the adults in charge of government and prisons are going to help get them out of this damaging system. Over half of these kids are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, as the system is stacked against locking them up.

The Northern Territory Royal Commission was released on 18 November 2017 confirming human rights abuses at Don Dale and the Alice Springs Correctional Centre — abuses we know are happening all over the country. Instead of using this opportunity to work with Indigenous communities and State & Territory leaders on a joint solution, the Government has neglected its responsibility and the NT Government is already winding back protections against torture and ill treatment. Whilst the Government issued a response to the report - no national leadership has been shown to fix the problem, and kids are still suffering.

 The youth justice system in Australia is in desperate need of national leadership. The problems may seem complex, but the solutions are achievable:

  • Ending abuses in prison through independent inspectors
  • National justice targets to measure real progress
  • Raising the age of criminal responsibility to 14
  • More Indigenous-run support services for families to stay strong and together
  • More diversion programs so kids don’t end up in prison.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations and leaders have been calling for a National Plan of Action to implement these solutions, but their calls have been ignored. The Council of Australian Governments and Federal Opposition have also voiced their support for national leadership on youth justice. We can’t stand by and let the Prime Minister neglect his duty to these kids.

We urge you to sign this petition to call on the Prime Minister to end these abuses and give all kids the opportunity to thrive. Every day he delays, more children suffer. Sign the petition now.

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  Our Petition


Dear Prime Minister,
Since the establishment of the Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory, serious findings and allegations of abuse of children in prison have emerged in every state and territory. We cannot escape that this is happening to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, who are 25 times more likely to be imprisoned than non-Indigenous children. National leadership is long overdue. Now is the time for the Australian Government to work with state and territory governments through the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) to achieve this change, building on the findings of the Royal Commission’s final report. It is critical that this report is not shelved or ignored, like past inquiries.
We call on the Australian Government, in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities, to develop, resource and implement a National Plan of Action for Youth Justice that includes:
  • supporting children, families and communities to stay strong together
  • raising the minimum age of criminal responsibility to 14
  • getting children who are not sentenced out of prison
  • adequate funding for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled legal services and other support services
  • ending abusive practices in prisons
  • setting targets to end the overrepresentation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in prison
  • improving collection and use of data
  • working through COAG to reform state and territory laws that breach children's rights.
This plan must have the support of all sides of government, at all levels, to achieve real change.
We owe it to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander kids who have spent their childhoods behind bars and the next generation to ensure that they are supported to thrive in their communities, not suffer behind bars.
We urge you to show national leadership at this historic opportunity for change.
Yours Sincerely,


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