One of the teenagers tear-gassed and pictured in a hood at the Northern Territory's Don Dale Detention Centre has told a royal commission he was regularly strip searched while in custody, while guards collected "rent" from inmates.
Dylan Voller was one of six children whose 2014 tear-gassing at the now notorious Don Dale youth detention centre in the Northern Territory was exposed in a Four Corners report.
The 19-year-old on Monday began giving evidence at the Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory, following a failed attempt to prevent it being made public.
In further shocking evidence, Voller also claims he was forced to defecate into a pillowcase while in detention in Alice Springs.
"There was one instance where I was in an isolation placement at Alice Springs detention centre and I was busting to go to the toilet, I had been asking for at least four or five hours.
"They'd just been saying no. I ended up having to defecate into a pillow case because they wouldn't let me out to go to the toilet. Eventually when I got let out the next morning, I was able to chuck that pillow case out.
"There has been other times where I've had to urinate out the door, out the back window, even in just normal rooms because they haven't been able to come down."
Voller on Monday testified he was sometimes strip searched after every trip to the bathroom, and he was was prevented from accessing toilet paper because he had used paper at one stage to block cameras.
After that happened, corrections officers would give him five pieces of toilet paper while he was on the toilet, he said.
Q: You mentioned underwear, that was a concern for you too, can you explain that?
A: If you don't buy your own underwear, the only other underwear you have the choice of wearing is the underwear everyone else wears, it gets washed, you pick out another pair, it gets washed and it goes through all of the males in Don Dale.
Q: You didn't have your own underwear?
A: Not unless you could buy it.
He was once left naked in a cold room, he said.
"There was a time where they left me in there with no clothes, no mattress, no sheets, no nothing, for the period of the whole night," he said on Monday.
"From what I feel, they turned the air con on all night. I was freezing all night. I was pressing the button, actually crying asking for a blanket, asking for a sheet.
I was that cold, my skin was going all wrinkly and shivering.Dylan Voller
During his testimony, the teenager spoke about his fear while being strapped to a chair with a spit hood on his face for 3.5 hours.
He told the commission that while in the chair he vomited into his mouth "a couple of times" while the hood was on his head, and wet himself. He accused the guards of teasing him and said he felt powerless.
I felt scared. Being in the restraint chair was one of the most scary things that's ever happened to me. That and the teargassing.Dylan Voller
He also recounted difficulties he faced with food, and told the commission he felt that he was punished by not being given food if he swore or was abusive to guards. He said one guard who took sympathy on him would feed him muesli bars or toast in the early hours of the morning.
He said he was able to get extra items through a 'token economy' at Don Dale, where prisoners could earn a maximum of $4.50 a day, losing $1.50 in rent.
"When I first started going, they had a system where they have different groups of how much money you could earn in a day, so 20s, 50s and 70s is excellent, good behaviour, OK behaviour and zeros if you were non-compliant," Voller said.
"They had three or four different sessions that they'd tick and the officers would tick it. The maximum you could earn was $4.50 a day.
"They'd take $1.50 off us every day for rent."
Q: Sorry, they charged you rent?
A: Yeah, they'd take $1.50 off the money we made every day.
Q: As rent for staying in Don Dale?
Earlier the inquiry heard applications to prevent the live broadcast of Dylan Voller's evidence.
Northern Territory solicitor-general Sonia Brownhill made a last-minute application to suppress elements of Voller's testimony from the public broadcast.
Voller's evidence is being given in closed court, but is being streamed on a 50-second delay to allow for any information with the potential to identify current or former NT Government employees to be redacted.
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