Northern Territory Aboriginal peak organisations today welcomed the announcement that Commissioner Brian Martin is stepping down from his role on the Royal Commission into youth detention in the Northern Territory.

“This is an opportunity for a fresh start on the process of forming this Commission”, spokesperson John Paterson said.

“We would like to thank the Commissioner for his courageous and difficult decision.

“We appreciate these past few days must have been a stressful time for him and his family and we commend his action in the face of the controversy that has surrounded the issue.

“We welcome his acknowledgement that his decision has been made foremost in the best interests of our children who are the subject of this inquiry.

“We wish to make it clear that his stepping down in no way reflects on his standing or capacity and we acknowledge his distinguished legal career.

“We again call on the Prime Minister and the Attorney General to consult with us on any further appointments to the Royal Commission”, spokesperson Donna Ah Chee said.

“The Commission should only be headed by somebody who is truly independent with no prior professional relationships in the NT.

“We are asking for a former High Court judge or someone of similar standing to be appointed.

“The Government must consult with us if this process is to be regarded as credible and if we are to have confidence in this Royal Commission and its deliberations.

“It is also essential that we have strong Aboriginal Co-Commissioners – Aboriginal people with standing and knowledge of the Aboriginal community in the NT – to ensure that it a culturally safe and inclusive process. We are calling for two Aboriginal Co-Commissioners, a male and female.

“This is an important opportunity to get this right and work with us rather than to us”, Mr Paterson concluded.

CONTACTS: John Paterson 0418 904 727; Donna Ah Chee 0418 859 416; David Cooper 0418 486 310