Physiotherapists united with Aboriginal organisations on Royal Commission

28 July 2016


The Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA) backs calls by the Aboriginal Peak Organisations of the Northern Territory (APO NT) for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to help drive the Royal Commission into NT’s juvenile detention.

Following Four Corners’ Monday 25 July report showing the violence and mistreatment towards juveniles in detention, the APO NT – the NT’s main Aboriginal land councils, medical and legal services – wrote to the Prime Minister (PM) requesting the Royal Commission be kept independent from the NT Government.

APA Chief Executive Officer Cris Massis says the association representing 23,000 physiotherapists also believes the inquiry should look at the full scope of the health and wellbeing needs of juveniles in detention and post-release, as well those of their family and community – not just the specific incidents raised by the Four Corners report, as the commission intends to do.

“It’s vital the Prime Minister honours his word and consults with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, rather than prescribes how the Royal Commission should be established. This is key to building much needed trust from those communities at the heart of this catastrophic issue,” Mr Massis said.

“Community consultation, engagement and participation are essential to addressing the health and welfare needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

“It’s also important we explore options for post-detention support in ways that strengthen culture, rather than unwittingly impose non-Aboriginal models that threaten or further degrade culture. We know detention can lead to a whole raft of social, health and emotional impacts on young people and their communities – it’s vital these impacts are also part of this investigation to drive positive outcomes for this at-risk group,” Mr Massis said.

The APA is echoing the APO NT calls for the government to:

  • Appoint an Aboriginal Commissioner who has the confidence of all communities in developing the Royal Commission’s terms of reference
  • Ensure Aboriginal community controlled organisations receive additional funding to participate meaningfully
  • Ensure the Royal Commission looks at the full scope of the health and wellbeing needs of juvenile detention and beyond detention.



For further information, please contact: Emma Breheny, APA Communications

, 03 9092 0824 


About the Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA)

The APA is the peak body representing the interests of Australian physiotherapists and their patients. It is a national organisation with state and territory branches and specialty subgroups. The APA represents more than 23,000 members who conduct more than 23 million consultations each year. To find a physiotherapist in your area, visit