Maurice Blackburn settles class action over mistreatment of young people in NT youth detention for $35m

28 July 2021
Social justice law firm Maurice Blackburn has secured a $35 million class action settlement on behalf of young people mistreated while in youth detention in the Northern Territory.

The amount of the historic settlement can be revealed today after the NT Government this week failed in its Federal Court bid to suppress the figure.

Registrations are now open for young people who believe they may be eligible to claim compensation as part of the class action settlement.

The class action covers anyone who was mistreated while in an NT youth detention centre between August 2006 and November 2017.

The case was brought by lead applicants Aaron Hyde and Dylan Jenkings, who were assaulted and abused by youth justice officers while in detention.

It’s estimated about 1200 people could be eligible for a share of the compensation. The amount paid to each person will vary depending on how long they were in detention, what happened to them, and how many people register for compensation.

Maurice Blackburn Principal lawyer Ben Slade said:

“Our clients welcome the Northern Territory Government’s decision to compensate those who were mistreated while in youth detention in the Territory.

“No amount of money will undo the ongoing harm caused by these abuses, but it is an important acknowledgement of the pain caused to hundreds of young people.

“While in detention, these young people were subjected to appalling treatment that included excessive force, handcuffing, strip searching and isolation in cells.

“These young people may have broken the law, but they did not deserve to be broken by the law.”

Aaron Hyde, one of the two lead applicants, said:

“Only the people who have walked in my shoes know what we’ve been through. Our shoes bear those scars and marks. The brothers and sisters who are no longer with us are not forgotten and we send them our love. I hope this settlement leads to change to create a better system for the younger mob.”

In 2017, the final report of the Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory revealed “systemic and shocking failures”, including “regular, repeated and distressing mistreatment” of young people.

“As the Royal Commission made clear, the Territory’s youth detention system was damaging children and young people, not rehabilitating them,” Mr Slade said.

“Our clients hope the Royal Commission and this hard-fought class action will lead to changes in the youth detention system that mean other young people will not suffer as they did.”

The NT Government does not admit that officers acted illegally, but it has previously apologised for the way young people were treated in youth detention.

Notices about the settlement will go out to potential class members from this week, with a Federal Court hearing to approve the final settlement scheduled for 8 November 2021 in Darwin.

Anyone who was in youth detention in the NT between 1 August 2006 and 27 November 2017 will be entitled to claim compensation money if they register.

Registrations can be made through the Maurice Blackburn website or by calling 1800 226 211 (free call). Registrations close on 16 November 2021.

Information about the class action, including a link to the registration portal, is available here: https://www.mauriceblackburn.com.au/ntyouthjustice/

Media inquiries:

Jade Knight at Maurice Blackburn Lawyers on 0417 969 438 or jknight@mauriceblackburn.com.au
Paddy Murphy at Maurice Blackburn Lawyers on 0490 297 391 or pmurphy@mauriceblackburn.com.au

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