Hundreds of protestors have gathered outside Sydney’s Town Hall in response to the treatment of children in detention exposed on the ABC’s Four Corners program this week.
About 700 people attended what organisers dubbed an “emergency rally” to hold those responsible for the mistreatment of children in detention in the Northern Territory to account.
The program showed video of teenagers being stripped naked, tear-gassed and assaulted in the Don Dale Youth Detention Centre in Darwin.
Another video showed a 14-year-old hooded and shackled to a chair.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced he would establish a royal commission into juvenile detention in the NT the morning after the show aired.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has called for two Indigenous commissioners to sit on the royal commissioner.
But speakers at the Sydney protest demanded immediate action, saying a royal commission would take far too long and arguing there was already plenty of evidence documented about the abuse.
Organisers said the images and footage showing the mistreatment of children were further proof of violence against Indigenous Australians.
Aboriginal elder Aunty Jenny Munroe said the Indigenous community was frustrated that the guards involved had not been arrested and charged.
“This is the first concrete piece of evidence that they have in the Territory of child abuse and they have the perpetrators, they know who the perpetrators are and they should be arrested now,” Ms Munroe said.
“There’s laws in operation now that they could be arrested under.
“There’s a deep concern about the present safety and security of those boys, the ones still in custody.”
The protest started in front of the Town Hall and proceeded to State Parliament along George, Bathurst, Pitt, King and Macquarie Streets.
There were rolling road closures and delays for motorists, but roads have now reopened and traffic has returned to normal.
Little faith in royal commission getting results: protesters
Ms Munroe said she had little faith the royal commission would lead to change.
“If we could see some action, some real, fair and just action taken, that would certainly allay some concerns,” Ms Munroe said.
“But most of our people know that that’s not going to be the case.
“We had a royal commission over two years ago, where not one person was charged.”
She said if the royal commission did not have the powers to make arrests it would be another failure from the Federal Government.
“It’s a racist system, it’s inherently oppressive to Aboriginal people,” Ms Munroe said.
“That racism is exposed at the end of the day, that they would brutalise those young men in that way and call it normal.
“That’s the sad thing about this country, that brutality has been normalised so much against Aboriginal people.”
Rallies have also been held in other capital cities around the nation including Brisbane, Adelaide and Melbourne.
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