The final report of the Royal Commission into the protection and detention of children in the NT

Date & time

1–2pm Monday 27 November 2017


Moot Court

Level 3, ANU College of Law, 5 Fellows Road, The Australian National University


Mary Spiers Williams, ANU Law School


For interstate visitors, we offer suggestions for accommodation near ANU.


Nicole Harman

Presented by ANU Law Reform & Social Justice

NT Juvenile

Overview and implications for the legal field

On 17 November 2017 the Royal Commission's report on the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory was released. As expected, the Commissioners condemned the conditions of custody and were highly critical of the limitations of the sentencing regime and the lack of diversionary
options for children at every stage of the process, amongst many other matters.

Child detention in the NT affects almost only Aboriginal children and their communities: 98% of the children detained in the NT are Aboriginal, which means that at any one time there are most l ikely to be only Aboriginal children detained. This appalling state of affairs exposes the continuing failure to redress racial inequality not only in the NT, but Australia-wide. Detention of children (and incarceration of adults) has a debilitating and marginalising effect on families and communities, and contributes significantly to the disempowerment of Aboriginal peoples in Australia.

In this session, Mary Spiers Williams and ANU Law School students who formed the Youth Justice Research Project will present a short overview of the findings of the Royal Commission and discuss implications of these findings for lawyers, lawmakers, judicial officers and law schools.

Sienna, Manny, Karina and Georgie with Max Henshaw, Stefanie Holland, and Rebecca Beard formed the Youth Justice Research Group in 2016. Amongst other research, they prepared a submission to this Royal Commission inquiry.


  • Mary Spiers Williams »

    Mary Spiers Williams is a lecturer in the ANU Law School, teaching advanced courses in criminal law and Indigenous people and law. She is a former legal practitioner from the NT of Australia; her doctoral thesis concerns legal concepts of culture in sentencing in central Australia.

  • Sienna Lake »

    Sienna Lake is a final year law student. Her Honours thesis is on aspects of legal pluralism in sentencing Yolngu people under the NT Sentencing Act. She has undertaken internships at the North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency, the Aboriginal Areas Protection Authority
    and the Kimberley Community Legal Service.

  • Manny Zhang »

    Manny Zhang graduated with 1st class Honours in July 2017. Her Honours thesis focused on transitional justice in Afro-descendant communities in Colombia. She has interned at the Aboriginal Legal Service and the North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency.

  • Karina Curry-Hyde »

    Karina Curry-Hyde graduated with first class honours in July 2017. Her honours thesis questioned whether evidence law in the NT facilitated a substantive right to silence there. As a student she interned at the Central Australian Aboriginal Legal Aid Service and worked at ACT Legal Aid Commission.

  • Georgie Melrose »

    Georgie Melrose is a final year law student who is undertaking an honours thesis on the taking into account social and historical context when sentencing. She interned at the North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency, which has published submissions she wrote on their behalf regarding bail and parole.

  • Zoe Neumeyer »

    Zoe Neumeyer graduated with first class honours in July 2017. Her honours thesis concerned the contribution of appellate process to increasingly punitive youth sentencing. She is a research officer with the Law Council of Australia.




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