Today's show was a vital look at the abuse uncovered in the 4 Corners Australia's Shame episode which aired this week on the ABC
Guests include Sally Neighbour, the executive Producer for 4 Corners, Jean Gamble who works as a psychotherapist in private practice, Dean Quirke currently working with individuals coming from disadvantaged backgrounds about anger and behaviour on primary prevention programs in schools
"These children were desperately keen to be interviewed because no-one has ever heard their side of the story. No-one has ever cared except their lawyers and their families. In this instance the empowerment of being able to tell their stories and have people listen has been enormously gratifying for them"
My first guest was Sally Neighbour the Executive Producer for 4 Corners who took time out to tell us how they managed to tell this story, how delighted they are with the response and some further insights to what has been going on in the Don Dale Detention Centre in Darwin.
Some key points stood out:
When people see what is actually going on and terrible abuses are called out they stand up fast and say it is not acceptable. Change can then happen very quickly. In this example the Prime Minister called for a Royal Commission within hours.
Comments highlighted were the minister who was acting as guardian and custodian of these kids saying on camera "The children come to us pre-broken by choice" - that one just beggars belief.
Thank you 4 Corners for giving them that voice. I hope it inspires them to be the change they want to now see in their lives.
My second guest was Jean Gamble who works as a psychotherapist in private practice with many clients who have experienced trauma and abuse. She spoke about the psychological and emotional consequences of trauma and abuse. She called for more understanding from institutions as to why these young men were in detention in the first place and to understand that young people will behave in that way when they are scared. "As adults we need to bring understanding to them, not compound what may have already been a disadvantaged upbringing." This comes down to education and good management which was clearly lacking from the CCTV footage we saw.
The governors comment about these young people being pre-broken as if there was no chance of rehabilitation and Sally's comment about how these young offenders had been treated by the Northern Territory press shows how, so often, young people who are in trouble are written off as lost causes. Yet, we have to ask what kind of start in life did they have? Surely it is our duty to ensure they receive the same decency that we all expect and deserve.
Jean has experience of working with adults who have been those 'lost causes', she has seen them turn their lives around to now be working on how to look below the surface and keep that trust whether it be in relationship, as a father, a husband, a partner. So much trust is eroded from trauma in childhood.
Dean Quirke has been a serving officer of the British Royal Army Royal Engineers, has worked in a young offenders prison in the UK and is now working with individuals coming from disadvantaged backgrounds about anger and behaviour on primary prevention programs in schools. He agreed with Jean on her point about knowing the background, how the young person got to be in this space. Clearly what was shown on the 4 Corners program was not the way to rehabilitate young offenders. They needed education and programs to address the behaviour. Both Jean and Dean agreed this was through self esteem, building trust and looking at the masks young people wear to cope with the pressures of their lives.
Violence as a way of controlling bad behaviour breeds more violence because so much stuff has been suppressed.
The conversation clearly has to go on...so this will have to be a part one on juvenile justice!
Don't just teach young people to respect others, teach them to respect themselves.
This show first aired on TripleH 100.1fm
4 Corners Website - Australia's Shame
Article in the Guardian - The Norwegian prison where inmates are treated like people
Lucy Dahill is the presenter of Stay in the Loop with Lucy, she has a passion for offering people the platform to share their voice. Young, old or somewhere in between we all have wisdom to share if we trust our hearts over our heads.