Four Corners: May 13

Monday’s Four Corners features “Inside the Watch House” a report by Mark Willacy on children as young as 10 have being held alongside adult criminals in maximum security facilities.

“This is a concrete pen, designed to hold adults in an acute and dangerous state… what are we doing to children who are being held (here)?” Children’s advocate

It’s almost three years since Four Corners exposed shocking revelations of mistreatment in the Northern Territory’s Don Dale youth detention centre in Australia’s Shame, sparking a Royal Commission.

Now the program is set to reveal a new child detention crisis in another part of Australia, where children as young as 10 have been held alongside adult criminals in maximum security facilities.

“The most dangerous people in Australia go in those watch houses. They’re in there for murder. There’s paedophiles.” Human rights advocate

With exclusive access, the program goes behind the locked cell doors to reveal how young people, most of whom have not yet been convicted of a crime, are being held, sometimes for weeks at a time.

“Seeing kids peeping out of the cell doors, out of the little cell hatches that they put the food on…. and they’ll just say…‘Miss, tell them that I want to talk to mum’.” Child protection monitor

These facilities can be tough and terrifying places for hardened adult offenders, let alone children.

“We’ve had young people in the watch house that have tried to commit suicide.” Senior police officer

The pressure of managing these children is taking its toll on everyone involved.

“I’ve been informed that some police officers last only two hours in the watch house environment. It is highly traumatic.” Children’s advocate

Those at the coal face of this crisis say it’s time to speak out.

“This is a failure on the part of the government to meet the most basic protections of young people.” Anti-Discrimination Commissioner

Monday 13th May at 8.30pm on ABC.


  1. Build more Youth Detention facilities, and put the emphasis on rehabilitation using Worlds best practice. The current system is just s breeding ground for lifelong recidivism.

  2. I watched it on ABC and it is a very important story that everyone must watch. I personally think you pretty much said everything in the story David, but it is a very powerful and confronting story. I saw the Don Dale story a couple of years ago on a repeat of 4 Corners on ABC News (a friend told me about it). I won’t say much more because there are people (especially in WA due to time difference) who haven’t seen it yet. Other than that, it was handled very well by the ABC.

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