Don Dale
Don Dale

Site to replace Don Dale youth prison revealed

DARWIN'S long-awaited new youth justice centre will be built next to the Darwin Correctional Centre.

After almost three years of false starts and failed negotiations Chief Minister Michael Gunner and his cabinet last week signed off on a decision to build the new facility next to the adult prison at Holtze.

The Government promised to build the new facility after winning government in 2016, committing $70 million for the project.

It at-first ruled out Holtze as an option because of its remote location and lack of nearby services, including public transport.

Instead it opted for a site at Pinelands, announcing this decision without consulting with nearby businesses.

In the wake of the huge community backlash the government reneged on that decision and went back to the drawing board.

It has now settled on Holtze as the site for the facility, despite the Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children saying a new youth justice facility should not be built near an adult prison.

The original plans for the Darwin Correctional Precinct, designed under the former Henderson Labor Government, included plans for a new youth justice facility at the site. But the new centre was never built with the government unable to afford it after committing $1.8 billion over 30 years to the adult prison as part of a public-private partnership.

Instead, children continued to be held at the dilapidated Don Dale Detention Centre in Berrimah.

They were eventually moved from there after an incident that saw six teenagers sprayed with tear gas during a riot in 2014.

The old Berrimah adult prison was repurposed as a youth justice centre in 2015 with children held there for the past four years.

Chief Minister Michael Gunner recently hinted the Government's new youth justice centre could be smaller than first planned, but it is not known if the full $70 million will still be spent on the project.