Dylan Voller Says Don Dale Detainees 'Sick' Of Treatment
Two years on from the infamous hooded picture, and Dylan Voller says not much has changed inside Don Dale detention centre.
Pictures of then 17-year-old Dylan Voller hooded and tied to a restraint chair inside the Don Dale detention centre sent shockwaves around the world in 2016.
An ABC investigation prompted a Royal Commission into the treatment of detainees in the Northern Territory’s youth justice system, which recommended the centre be shut down.
Don Dale was once an adult prison, and they found it should no longer be used for juveniles. But it wasn’t, and on Tuesday it became the centre of another incident.
Around 25 detainees started a riot, setting fire to a building and attempting to cut through a perimeter fence. Police decided they couldn't risk sending firefighters in to quell the flames until the detainees were brought under control.
Voller said Don Dale is no place to house children.
“I don’t condone what happened, but it’s a bunch of young people who are just sick of it,” he told 10 News First.
“A lot of people are sick of it and there’s a lot of people around Australia and all over the world who are sick of the way the Northern Territory are treating kids in detention centres.”
The NT government has promised it will close Don Dale. But it says for now it can’t.
About $70 million has been put aside to build two new detention facilities, but they won’t be open until 2021. Until then, Don Dale is it.
That, according to Voller, is part of the problem.
“It’s not new centres that needed, it’s new programs to actually help them before they reach the centres, so they don’t have to live that life, they don’t have to think that jail is the only life for them.”
He said his cousin was inside during the riot.
“I’ve got a young cousin who is in there right now who is from Alice Springs," Voller said.
"He can’t be visited by his family because they’re 1500 kilometres away. That’s one reason why people in there are getting pushed. They’re getting separated from their culture and expected to just behave, and just listen to adults bark orders at them. It’s not going to work.”
Voller has offered to help the NT government come up with a solution for the juvenile justice system. Now free of the system, he has just been accepted to pre-law at the University of New South Wales.
He has a message for those still inside.
“I just want them to know if they see this interview, that anything is possible, and there’s a lot of other ways that they could deal with the situation," Voller said.
"There’s a lot of people they could reach out and talk to. Right now you might feel stuck, but there is a lot out there that you can achieve."