POLITICS

Nationwide Protests Held Over Treatment Of Children In NT Juvenile Detention

The rallies follow the shadow of child abuse revelations at the Don Dale detention centre.

30/07/2016 7:19 PM AEST | Updated 30/07/2016 9:40 PM AEST
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Jason Reed / Reuters
Demonstrators gathered outside Sydney's Town Hall, with rallies also underway in Melbourne, Adelaide, Darwin, Canberra and Perth.

Hundreds of Australians have joined in protest against the treatment of children in juvenile detention facilities in the wake of revelations surrounding the Don Dale centre.

A series of rallies were organised by The Warriors of the Aboriginal Resistance in cities across the country on Saturday.

As emotions ran high, speakers called for an immediate end to children in detention as well as broader, institutional change following the ABC investigation into the cruel treatment of children in the Northern Territory facility.

In Sydney, a crowd of about 400 people rallied outside the Town Hall.

Indigenous elder Ken Canning and Aboriginal tent embassy founder Jenny Munro addressed the crowd, calling for accountability.

"You can see once again how vulnerable our people are at the hands of the state," Munro said.

"We need to understand the deep north and deep west of this country. The racism in the territory and in the west is in your face every day."

Ms Munroe said she had little faith a royal commission would lead to change.

"If we could see some action, some real, fair and just action taken, that would certainly allay some concerns," she said.

"But most of our people know that that's not going to be the case.

"We had a royal commission over two years ago, where not one person was charged."

A larger crowd of up to 1,000 people gathered at the State Library in Melbourne, filling the CBD as they demanded an end to the abuse of Aboriginal children.

The lock-in protest continued into Saturday evening.

The protests come as the fallout from revelations of abuse at the Don Dale Youth Detention Centre continues.

The Federal Minister for Indigenous Affairs Nigel Scullion has apologised for his lack of awareness of the "horrors" at the facility.

He addressed a crowd at the Garma Festival in north-east Arnhem Land on Saturday, first turning to the ABC Four Corners report.

"We must all take appropriate responsibility for what's occurred, including myself," Scullion said.

"Now, I'm sorry I wasn't aware of the full circumstances that were exposed this week.

"Clearly I must be better informed about such matters, particularly when the vast majority of youths held in detention in the Northern Territory are Indigenous."

The Minister committed to improved monitoring of governments in the field, saying he had written to his counterparts to seek their advice and support.

Following announcements of a royal commission into the Northern Territory's child protection and youth detention system, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has called for the appointment of 2 Aboriginal co-commissioners.

The investigation has also received international condemnation. The United Nations High Commissioner For Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Husseein has called on the Turnbull government to expand the inquiry's scope "in order to establish that such appalling treatment is not taking place in any other place of detention in Australia".

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