Mick Gooda and Margaret White to Head Royal Commission
1 August 2016 at 2:31 pm
Indigenous advocate Mick Gooda and former justice of the Supreme Court of Queensland Margaret White AO have been appointed to head up the royal commission into the Northern Territory’s juvenile justice system.
The appointments, announced on Monday, follow the resignation of former NT chief justice Brian Martin.
Speaking at a press conference Attorney General George Brandis said the important thing was not to allow the event to delay or in any way hinder the important work of the royal commission.
He said Gooda was “an obvious candidate for this role”.
“Mr Gooda, who is a Gungulu man from central Queensland is well known as one of Australia’s most highly regarded Indigenous leaders,” Brandis said.
“He has the respect of both sides of politics, as is evident from the fact he was appointed as the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner by a Labor government and reappointed by the Coalition government.”
Brandis said he, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion had decided to select an Aboriginal royal commissioner following calls from Indigenous groups.
Gooda, who has served almost seven years as the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, was recommended by Indigenous advocacy groups including the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services.
“Mr Gooda’s name was prominent among those recommended,” Brandis said.
“In fact, his was the only name recommended to the government by the national Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander legal service who wrote that the appointment of Mr Gooda would demonstrate the government’s commitment to building a respectful relationship with Indigenous people.”
Gooda said it was a “pretty special day” for him.
“I’ve been fairly vocal about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people needing to have confidence in the process, to have confidence in the outcomes,” Gooda said.
“I think I may have set myself up a bit because I will be now part of that process and it’s with great humility that I accepted the offer to be royal commissioner and to take on that role.”
White, who has extensive experience in both the civil and criminal jurisdictions, said it was a privilege to have Gooda as co-commissioner.
“I know that we are going to be able to deal with the various and difficult aspects of this inquiry harmoniously and we hope to a good outcome and some recommendations which will see good juvenile justice in the NT,” White said.
A directions hearing is expected to take place on 6 September in Darwin ahead of hearings in October.
The commission is expected to launch its website in the coming days.
It follows a damning ABC Four Corners report into abuse in the juvenile detention system in the Northern Territory which revealed footage of a 17-year-old strapped into a mechanical restraint chair in the Don Dale detention facility, along with a series of other videos, showing the repeated stripping, assault and mistreatment of him and other boys.