Thousands of Australians turned out in several capital cities at the weekend to protest the treatment of Aboriginal children in juvenile detention centres across the Northern Territory.
The rallies were in reaction to shocking footage of Aboriginal children being subjected to brutal treatment in the Don Dale juvenile detention centre outside of Darwin, which aired on the ABC’s Four Corners program last week.
The program led to prime minister Malcolm Turnbull announcing a royal commission into the treatment of children in all of the NT's juvenile detention centres.
The largest rally took place in Melbourne where more than 3000 protestors occupied the corner of Flinders and Swanston streets for around 12 hours on Saturday.
"For Aboriginal people these kinds of stories are nothing new to us and it's kind of terrifying that it's taken a video of our most brutalised young men on a current affairs program to get any traction at all," Celeste Liddle, an Arrernte woman, feminist and columnist told BuzzFeed News.
"The [non-Indigenous] people who came along did so because they had been shocked [by the vision]."
Protestors carried posters that read, "Stop Aboriginal deaths and torture in custody", and chanted "leave our kids alone" and "hands off our children".
"We had a lot of speeches and some of the key voices were Aboriginal people that had been in the system and quite brutalised by that system," Liddle said.
At the centre of the rally was a group of young Aboriginal women who chained themselves to the inside of a large cage.
"We don’t highlight enough that a lot of the [rallies] have been run and organised by a group of young Aboriginal women activists," Liddle said.
Rallies were also held in Adelaide
On Monday the federal government announced that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander social justice commissioner and Gangulu man, Mick Gooda, would be co-commissioner for the royal commission alongside former Queensland supreme court judge, Margaret White.
Previously appointed royal commissioner, Brian Martin QC, stood aside on Monday over concerns about a conflict of interest. Martin's daughter had previously worked in the NT Justice Department.
White and Gooda are expected to hand down their findings by March next year.
Rallies and protests are set to continue over the next few months, with another scheduled in Sydney this Thursday.
Formerly with BuzzFeed News, Allan Clarke is a NITV reporter based in Sydney.
Contact Allan Clarke at arielle.benedek+AC@buzzfeed.com.
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