You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

NT royal commission 'a watershed moment'

AAP logoAAP 5/09/2016 Neda Vanovac

The Northern Territory royal commission into the detention of young indigenous children could be a watershed moment for Australian justice, the lawyer for one abused boy says.

The inquiry being led by co-commissioners Margaret White and Mick Gooda sat on Tuesday to outline what would happen over the next few months.

Lawyer Peter O'Brien appeared in the ABC program which sparked the royal commission, after showing footage of youths in Darwin's Done Dale centre being gassed, stripped naked, hooded and tied to restraint chairs.

"This is a watershed moment potentially, not only in the history of detention in the NT but potentially also right across the country," he told reporters outside the Supreme Court in Darwin.

Mr O'Brien said the treatment of two of his clients, Dylan Voller and Jake Roper, in the system was "deplorable" and that they were willing to give evidence.

Mr Gooda and Ms White plan to proceed "with a high degree of cultural competence" to create a safe environment for people giving evidence to the commission, which will examine the treatment of juvenile offenders over 10 years.

"Many wrongs have been committed in the past which have caused great trauma and lasting damage to many people," he said in his opening statement on Tuesday.

"Despite being a painful process, for the community to move forward, it must come to understand where these wrongs have occurred and ensure those wrongs are not repeated."

The commission will look at the years between August 2006 and August 2016.

"There can be no one in our community who is not anxious to find out if there are ways to bring about a significant reduction in child offending," Ms White said in her opening statement.

Before the commission was first announced, Mr Gooda was criticised for being biased after he called for the sacking of the now ousted NT Country Liberal Party government.

He again rejected this, assuring stakeholders of his impartiality.

"I wish to assure those people and the community that I will look only at the evidence and other information given to the commission and that nothing extraneous will affect the conclusions I reach with my co-commissioner," he said.

The commissioners will start hearing public evidence from next month, ahead of a final report to be delivered by the end of March 2017.

They've already visited Darwin, Alice Springs and Kalkarindji and met with more than two dozen stakeholder groups.

The fallout of the Don Dale youth justice scandal over the past six weeks has been wide-ranging.

The CLP government lost the minister in charge John Elferink before being ousted by Labor at the August 27 NT election.

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon