NT Youth Justice class action

Maurice Blackburn, Australia’s leading class action law firm, is conducting a class action legal case on behalf of young people mistreated in youth detention centres in the Northern Territory, between 1 August 2006 and 27 November 2017.

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The class action was filed in the Darwin Registry of the Federal Court of Australia on 23 December 2016, and is being managed from our Class Actions practice in Sydney.

Background to the class action

On 25 July 2016, ABC’s Four Corners aired a report entitled ‘Australia’s Shame’ which exposed the mistreatment of detainees in youth detention in the Northern Territory.  In response to the Four Corners report and public outrage, the Commonwealth Government announced the Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory.

In the wake of the Four Corners report, Maurice Blackburn received referrals from NT legal services for young people who had been similarly mistreated in youth detention.  Our investigations revealed that this was very widespread.  Maurice Blackburn filed the class action on behalf of young people mistreated in detention on 23 December 2016.

The Royal Commission handed down its Final Report on 17 November 2017.

Who is part of the class action?

The class action is brought by Dylan Jenkings and Aaron Hyde on behalf of all young people mistreated in any Northern Territory youth detention centre between 1 August 2006 and 27 November 2017. 

Mr Jenkings and Mr Hyde are claiming compensation money for themselves and 'class members', being every person who:

  1. was detained in a youth detention centre (see below) in the Northern Territory at any time between 1 August 2006 and 27 November 2017
  2. while detained, suffered or alleges to have suffered bad conditions and treatment, as well as assault and battery and/or false imprisonment, including by being threatened and roughly treated or bashed by officers, handcuffed or otherwise restrained or held in isolation, beyond the powers provided by the governing law, the Youth Justice Act (NT) and Youth Justice Regulations (NT)
  3. was not a plaintiff in the following proceedings in the Supreme Court of the Northern Territory: No 16 of 2016 (21615113) and No 24 of 2016 (21617890).

The applicants claim that mistreatment and other bad conditions detainees suffered came about because of racial discrimination because around 90% of detainees were Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, and then all detainees were subjected to the bad treatment and conditions.  Young people do not need to be Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander to be part of the class action.

Class members do not need to do anything now to be part of the class action, but if you register with us (see below) we will keep you updated about the case.

At a later stage, the Federal Court will give class members the chance to opt out of the class action if they do not want to be part of it.

For more information on the class action or whether you or someone you know is a class member, please contact Maurice Blackburn on the free number 1800 226 211.

More information about the case is in the Fourth Originating Application and the Fifth Statement of Claim.

Youth detention centres

Between 1 August 2006 and 27 November 2017, the following locations were classified as “youth detention centres”:

  • Don Dale Youth Detention Centre – at both its current and previous locations
  • Alice Springs Youth Detention Centre
  • Arunda House in Alice Springs
  • Parts of Alice Springs Correctional Centre (the adult prison) from 25 March 2011
  • Parts of Darwin Correctional Centre (the adult prison) from 19 August 2014
  • Court cells 5 and 6 of the Darwin Magistrates Court from 12 December 2013
  • Darwin Youth Justice Court from 15 February 2016.

Extension of claim period

The class action has been extended so that young people mistreated in youth detention up until 27 November 2017 are part of the class action. 

Initially the case was only open to people who had been in youth detention up to the date the case was filed in the Federal Court, 23 December 2016.  This was extended in November 2017 by consent order (by order of the Court with the Northern Territory’s agreement).

Register your interest

If you think that you or someone you know might be a class member, please register so Maurice Blackburn can tell you what is happening in the class action. Or you can call Maurice Blackburn on the free number 1800 226 211 and we can do the registration over the phone.

Time limits

Laws often give a set time limit for a case to be started using that law. If a case is started after that time the Court cannot hear it. In this case the time limit is 6 months, but the Court can give longer in certain circumstances.   

Mr Jenkings and Mr Hyde have asked the Court to give longer to themselves and all class members so that the Court can hear their cases. It will still be up to the Court to decide whether to give that extra time.