Only Australia could rival the entrenched racism and barbarity of countries such as the US, Israel and apartheid-era South Africa, notorious for locking up Blacks, immigrants and children.
But the Northern Territory has set a new benchmark. All – 100 percent of – children imprisoned there are Aboriginal, according to the territory Families department.
More shocking is that, according to the findings of the royal commission into Northern Territory youth detention, up to three-quarters of all detainees are on remand: they haven’t even been found guilty of an offence.
Some of these children endured racist brutality from prison guards in the Don Dale Youth Detention Centre, which made headlines in 2016. It’s worth noting that not one prison guard was charged over the abuse of Aboriginal children uncovered by the ABC’s Four Corners program.
True to its record, the governing Territory Labor Party is expanding the youth detention system rather than winding it back. It plans to invest more than $70 million to rebuild Don Dale and detention centres across Alice Springs, which has the second highest concentration of Aboriginal youth detainees in the territory.
This is a continuation of the “law and order” policies implemented across the country by both Labor and Liberal governments. It’s also a clear example of how these policies disproportionally target Aboriginal people.
When you run the Australian capitalist state, racism becomes your tool, rather than a cancer to be eradicated. Labor and Liberal have no interest in bettering the lives of Aboriginal youth – or non-Aboriginal youth for that matter.
Solutions to the problems will not be found in their party platforms, which continue to peddle the same old garbage law and order policies that got us here.
We can’t wait for yet another useless royal commission. The scum overseeing the incarceration of Aboriginal youth will change course only if they are forced to by a grassroots and collective struggle.
There are lessons from the resistance to Trump’s kidnapping of Latino children in the US: we need to protest, we need to organise, and we need a politics that goes beyond attempts to reform a system that is racist to the core.