Nine Days in the Northern Territory

By Genée Rorman

On the 24th of October, I arrived in Darwin in a travelling party with five others, including the architect himselfour very own Mr Howard, returned to assess his handiwork after all these years. We were greeted by the good people of the intervention, the ADF and the police force.

Average tourists go through NT tours and, as such, do not understand the difficulties of policing the crime-ravaged shanty towns of the outback. We, however, well-connected individuals that we are, were given a rare glimpse of reality.

Guardian investigation from August claimed that more than 400 Indigenous people have died in custody since the end of the 1991 royal commission, many of whom allegedly died in NT detention centres.

This was not my experience.

Travelling from centre to centre, I didn’t see a single Indigenous inmate get beaten, tasered or shot, and the guards are convinced that prison is one of the safest places to live. While there are less favourable accounts, such as the whole blow-up about Don Dale and Dylan Voller, the ‘torture’ testimony doesn’t accord with my experience.

Even when there is a smattering of violence, you get the impression that the so-called ‘brutality’ here is different to brutality in richer, whiter areas, where such measures would obviously be unjustified.

Yes, our time there was limited, but honestly, what I saw was a well-oiled—and well-armed—machine, which has brought the fruits of order to its underlings.