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Commission needs indigenous input: Dodson

AAP logoAAP 30/07/2016 By Katina Curtis

There's unlikely to be justice for indigenous youth in detention unless indigenous people can be directly involved in the royal commission, Labor senator Pat Dodson says.

The federal opposition wants two indigenous Australians to preside over the royal commission into youth detention in the Northern Territory alongside the government's appointee Brian Ross Martin.

Labor leader Bill Shorten on Sunday repeated calls for Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to personally head to the NT to discuss the inquiry with indigenous communities.

"For a lot of Aboriginal people, this royal commission will be a far less credible venture if they're not being consulted with, listened to, if we don't have an (indigenous) man and a woman as co-commissioners," he told reporters at the territory's Garma festival.

Senator Dodson said Justice Martin wouldn't be able to cover all matters in the terms of reference on his own.

"Unfortunately, if it's just left to one commissioner without any knowledge of the culture and the social norms or the backgrounds of these families, then it's going to be very difficult for him to do justice to them," the indigenous leader told ABC TV on Sunday.

But that looks unlikely to happen, with the Turnbull government saying it won't be taking advice from Labor on the shape of the royal commission.

"We are keen that this royal commission gets under way very quickly and that's why it is so targeted," Special Minister of State Scott Ryan told Sky News on Sunday, rejecting the idea of additional commissioners.

Senator Dodson is also calling for NT Chief Minister Adam Giles to be subpoenaed to appear before the commission and for him to be removed from its deliberations.

The royal commission was prompted by ABC's Four Corners airing footage of prison officers in the Don Dale centre abusing teenagers in their charge.

The footage showed young boys being stripped naked, tear-gassed and held in solitary confinement.

Speaking at the Garma festival in northeast Arnhem Land, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander social justice commissioner Mick Gooda said the footage had left Australians shocked at the level of violence that Aboriginal people "almost take for granted".

Mr Gooda said the royal commission must look at the role of race as well as the actions of the guards at the Don Dale detention centre.

He said police should act immediately to charge the officers.

Mr Shorten said Australia couldn't treat the abuse and detention of Aboriginal people as business as usual.

"It's not right to have that sort of humiliation, that sort of degradation, a justice system unworthy of its name, and a child protection system that's so obviously failed," he said.

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