In July 2016 harrowing images of a child being forcibly restrained in Don Dale Youth Detention Centre in Australia’s Northern Territory shone a national spotlight on the conditions experienced by some young persons in custody. The subsequent Royal Commission provides an important opportunity for an independent body with expansive powers to examine the human rights violations that some youth experience in detention. This article examines Australian media coverage of the Don Dale incidents to question whether an international human rights law perspective was embraced and the degree to which such a perspective offers a useful vantage point for understanding and responding to the abuses at Don Dale. The article concludes that the international human rights framework provides a valuable perspective for communicating the gravity of the treatment of young people in detention and from which the Federal Government can draw to ensure an effective response to the violations committed.
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