Local News

Former deputy NT chief to front inquiry


A former Northern Territory deputy chief minister will front the royal commission into the detention and protection of children when two weeks of hearings resume in Darwin.

Robyn Lambley was the Country Liberals government deputy leader in 2012, but in 2015 quit her party to sit as an independent Alice Springs MP.

As the inquiry returns to Darwin on Monday to examine child welfare systems, the member for Araluen will take the stand along with current and former government staff, foster carers and residential care providers.

Experts in child development and mental health, Aboriginal community elders, and case workers are expected to testify.

NT Children's Commissioner Colleen Gwynne and President of the Children's Court of Western Australia, Judge Denis Reynolds will also give evidence.

And the commission will hear personal stories from vulnerable witnesses, while a community forum will be held on Monday to allow co-commissioners Margaret White and Mick Gooda to hear first hand accounts.

The teen whose mistreatment sparked the inquiry, Dylan Voller, told 60 Minutes he was strapped into a restraint chair multiple times starting at age 12.

Footage of the former youth inmate being tear-gassed, spit-hooded and shackled to restraint chairs prompted Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to call the commission last July.

Voller said the longest time he was held in isolation was a month-and-a-half.

"You feel lonely. You feel like there's no-one there and no-one cares. You start talking to yourself and going mad," he said on Sunday.

The 19-year-old was jailed in 2014 for a violent, ice-fuelled crime spree but granted bail in February to undergo the Alice Springs BushMob program.

Voller says he's ready to change his life, and his biggest regret is having used the drug.

"Every young kid is worth something, and with a little bit of help they can turn their life around. I'm a result of that. Probably thinking about studying law," he said.



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