Shocking footage has emerged of an Australian youth detention center, showing the guards beating teenage detainees, teargassing them and keeping them in solitary confinement for hours.
The CCTV footage, which was aired by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) late on Monday, had been filmed in the Don Dale Youth Detention Center in Northern Territory between 2010-2014.
The video showed the youths being stripped naked by the guards at the facility, thrown by the neck into a cell and held for long periods in solitary confinement.
In one instance, a hooded boy was seen shackled to a mechanical restraint chair by his neck, arms, legs and feet in a room, where he is left alone for hours.
The video also showed the guards mocking the young detainees.
The horrific footage and images prompted Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to order an investigation into the incident.
“We will be establishing a Royal Commission in to these events, into this center,” said Turnbull, adding, “We want to know how this came about, we want to know what lessons can be learned from it, we want to know why.”Northern Territory Chief Minister Adam Giles also said he was “shocked and disgusted” by the footage.
“A community is judged by the way it treats its children and serious questions were raised,” he said in a statement.
In 2015, a report into the mistreatment of children by the Northern Territory Children’s Commissioner found fault with the behavior of guards, but it was disputed by the then head of prisons and not acted upon, according to the ABC.
The Northern Territory has the highest rate of youth detention in Australia.
Local human rights activists say UK-based rights body Amnesty International has already warned Australian officials about the abuse of children in the Northern Territory prisons.
They say the government has turned a blind eye to the issue because the teens involved were indigenous.
“As this program shows, these are not isolated incidents,” said Julian Cleary, Indigenous Rights Campaigner at Amnesty International Australia.
“The (Northern Territory) government has failed to deal with systemic issues with the treatment of children in its youth detention system,” she added.Save the Children, however, said the investigation needed to be Australia-wide, and not just into the Northern Territory.
Last month, an inquiry into the Australian military found teenage recruits were subjected to horrendous physical and sexual abuse by their senior officers.
The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sex Abuse, which conducted the inquiry, has already examined churches, sports bodies and the entertainment industry.
He was a football-loving teenager who ended up committing a 24-hour crime spree while high on ice, and now shocking photographs of him restrained and wearing a "spit hood" in juvenile detention have gone around the world.
For Dylan Voller, the Australian teenager whose mistreatment in a Northern Territory juvenile facility will now become part of a royal commission into indigenous youth custody, the trauma is not over.
A Northern Territory youth worker who knows and has cared for Voller in the past said the teen, who is now 19, "has been in and out of trouble, needs to get serious counselling and it needs to be funded by the government".
"If a boy commits a crime, I'm not saying they don't have to face the music, but where's the duty of care? They need a place where they can be safe."
Dylan's sister Kira said that her brother "deserves his life back" and had "lost everything".
Ms Voller said her brother had "lost hope".
"The last time I went to visit him there was no smile, there was no emotion, there was nothing, I couldn't give him anything to be positive about and that really broke me," Ms Voller said.
"I want him to know he's still a person and people still love him and he still has hope for a life.
"He's been in and out of jail from the age of 11, 10," Kira told ABC radio. "That's half of his whole life."
Just four years ago, Dylan Voller was photographed calmly sitting on the grass with his friend Leighton at a Saturday rugby grand final match in Alice Springs.
But the young teenager had a troubled past.
The youth worker told news.com.au that the then 14-year-old had "underlying trauma" and had been in trouble with the NT Police as a juvenile.
A youth justice advocacy project worker had reported that Voller had suffered "anger issues" and had a "propensity to spit".
Then on February 7, 2014, Voller got drunk and "high on ice" and with two other young men went on a 24-hour crime spree, attacking two men and a police officer.
It was during his incarceration following being found guilty for this series of incidents that Voller was placed in restraints and the spit hood in the now infamous Don Dale Youth Detention Centre in Darwin.
ABC-TV's Four Corners showed images of Voller hooded and strapped into a mechanical restraint chair for almost two hours in March 2015, when he was serving a total of two years and three months' minimum sentence.
The report on Voller and other boys' disturbing detention has seen the first scalp claimed.
Northern Territory Chief Minister Adam Giles this afternoon announced he had removed John Elferink as Corrections Minister, installing himself in the role.
Voller's spree began in Alice Spring's iconic Todd Street, where he and the two other young men tried to rob a man walking to work.
A court later heard that Voller, then a slightly built teen, ran bare-chested at the man, yelling "you fat white racist dog. You yelled at us".
The three teens took the man's wallet, knocked him to the pavement and kicked him in the ribs.
Still high on drugs the following day, the boys ambushed Luke McIntyre near a store where the 17-year-old was trying to buy cigarettes.
Voller struck him with a mop handle, punched him in the face and stole his wallet. McIntyre was bashed unconscious, then his three assailants fled in a Holden Commodore.
Voller was behind the wheel and tried to run down a "terrified" Constable Gerard Reardon who had ordered the trio to stop.
On August 13, 2014, Northern Territory Supreme Court Justice Peter Barr sentenced Voller to a maximum of three years and eight months for attempted robbery, aggravated robbery and recklessly endangering serious harm.
Voller, who was already in custody, had a 20 month non-parole period to serve. Justice Barr noted that the 16-year-old had a very troubled past, dating back to when he was an 11-year-old and had committed more than 50 offences, including crimes of violence, over five years.
Placed in custody in the Don Dale centre, Voller was regarded as a "notorious" juvenile prisoner.
The ABC reported that he was subjected to a "catalogue ... of abuse" in detention centres in Darwin and Alice Springs over the last five years.
Four Corners reported that on two occasions after he was found in his cell crying, guards grabbed Dylan Voller around the neck, stripped him naked and held him down.
CCTV footage obtained by the ABC show prison officers tear gassing male juvenile prisoners following a "riot" at Don Dale centre in August 2014.
Voller's sister Kira said she held the guards responsible for her brothers' behaviour, and she wanted to see the law permitting the use of mechanical restraints overturned.
"What I'd really like to see is ... for them to take accountability for the fact that they damaged him a lot more than helped," she said.
"These people are already full-grown adults and made the decision to harm that child while they were working," she said. "The government gave them that responsibility, to care for these kids, and instead they abused that role."
A Northern Territory youth worker told news.com.au that an alternative safe centre for juvenile offenders had been all but abandoned during successive NT governments due to pressure from child protection workers.
"I've seen kids who have been stabbed or contracted sexually transmitted diseases in custody," he said. "They need protection, not abuse."
Earlier, the first scalp has been claimed over the shocking mistreatment of children in a Northern Territory detention facility exposed in an ABC report last night.
Chief Minister Adam Giles this afternoon announced he had removed John Elferink as Corrections Minister, installing himself in the role.
Addressing reporters in Darwin, Mr Giles blamed the scandal on a "culture of cover-up" within the territory's juvenile corrections system.
Senior Government figures in the Northern Territory earlier described footage showing the teargassing and torture of children in a Darwin detention facility as shocking, but there's no way some of them could really be shocked.
These disturbing images and other details of the treatment of children in correctional facilities have prompted a "deeply shocked" Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to quickly call for a Royal Commission into the treatment of children at the Don Dale detention centre in Darwin, where the footage was collected.
NT government figures, Mr Giles and Mr Elferink, have backed the call and expressed their own shock, but not everyone was buying it.
Revelations that tear gas was being used in NT children's correctional facilities were published in a report released by the Territory's children's commissioner last year.
The head of indigenous advocacy group the North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency, Priscilla Collins, said she had seen the video of a hooded boy shackled to a chair in Don Dale "a few years ago", and that the NT government would have had access to the footage.
She told Sky News her organisation had been calling for action by the NT Government for years, and that there had been several reports presented to government and not acted on.
NT Opposition Leader Michael Gunner appeared to accuse the government of a cover-up, saying they had access all the materials exposed in the Four Corners report.
"The NT Government. They have had full access to all of this. They are the ones we have been arguing with when we called for the Chief Minister to sack the Corrections Minister for a range of failings including this," he said.
Federal Labor MP Linda Burney, the first indigenous woman elected to the lower house, said how much the government knew was the key question.
"I want to know as does everyone else ... did or did they not know this was going on?" she said on ABC radio.
"It is just inconceivable to me that someone that has worked in government that has been head of a government agency, that there was not knowledge of these practices and these instances in the Northern Territory, and that needs to be exposed.
"I do not believe that they did not know."
There have been several calls for the NT government to be thrown out and involved ministers to be sacked.
Indigenous leader and Senator Pat Dodson has called for the NT attorney-general to stand down.
"The person who is responsible for the oversight of these duties and responsibilities, if they've got any honour about them, ought to stand aside voluntarily or they ought to be sat aside by their chief minister," he said.
"These kids have been subject to this torture and mistreatment since 2010 basically, and some of them repeatedly, and you can't allow the people who have been in charge of this ... to remain in charge."
Prominent members of the legal community have called for the NT government to have "as little contact with possible" with the running of the royal commission.
"It needs to be taken out of the hands of the NT government straight away. They are proven to lack capacity, proven to not be honest with the public about the facts," Jared Sharp, a senior lawyer with the North Australia Aboriginal Justice Agency, told AAP.
John Lawrence, a former vice president of the NT Bar Association, called for the commission head and investigators to be brought in from interstate.
"There should be as little contact with anyone associated with the NT government as possible," he added.
Mr Lawrence also believes NT corrections minister and attorney-general John Elferink has been "asleep" on the job, given the territory Children's Commissioner had published a report a year ago raising similar concerns.
"If he has failed to look at the direct best evidence then he's just asleep on the job, derelict, negligent," Mr Lawrence told AAP. "One way or the other he is totally unfit for office."
The involvement of NT authorities has not been the only criticism of the hastily announced Royal Commission.
Mr Turnbull said the royal commission should concentrate on the Done Dale Youth Detention Centre specifically, and would not be expanded at this stage to other centres.
"There may be other matters connected to that to be looked into, but it's very important with inquiries that they have a clear focus," he told ABC radio.
"We will get to the bottom of this swiftly and we will identify the lessons that need to be learned."
The moment Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced a Royal Commission into the treatment of children at a Northern Territory juvenile detention centre, refugee advocates responded calling for the commission to be expanded to take in the wider issues of treatment of children in detention, including on Nauru and Manus Island.
Former Australian Greens leader Christine Milne responded saying the Coalition was acting "blind and deaf" to Nauru.
Other high-profile advocates, including Network Ten's Paul Bongiorno and Crikey's Bernard Keane, drew a similar connection between the two issues.
Speaking on ABC's Q & A last night, the President of the Australian Human Rights Commission, Gillian Triggs, said the conditions were worse than she had seen in asylum-seeker detention centres.
"My response is very likely to be that of so many Australians who will have watched this program - absolute horror at watching the treatment of these children and to know this is done in the name of Australia,
"If one of us were to have been found to have treated our children in this way we would probably be charged with a criminal offence and the children taken away from us," she said.
"It's an extremely distressing piece of footage to look at and I have visited many detention centres, sadly, I have never seen conditions of that kind and I have never seen people treated in that way."