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NT Defamation Case in Supreme Court

We have always had to fight for our right to assert our personhood and the fight continues with Alice Springs Newspaper ‘The Centralian Advocate – NT News’ currently the subject of defamation litigation following the publishing of an Indigenous child’s photograph above the headline “Youth Crisis: town split over kids.”

The photograph was of a then 10 year old Indigenous boy who was standing behind a fence at Anzac Oval who was there with his family, with this image being published along with a ‘four page special’ covering issues such as youth crime, curfews, alleged delinquency, police and youth services. The insinuation of presenting this image with such a story is obvious and forms the substance of the defamation claim brought by the boy’s mother against Nationwide News Pty Ltd.

Nationwide News Pty Ltd is the publishing subsidiary of Murdoch’s News Corp, which should tell us all that we really need to know really given that integrity in reporting and factual analysis is not a strong point of publications under this corporate structure.

The case against the publication presents a claim for damage, aggravated and exemplary damage, interest, and costs for the public humiliation, breach of privacy and resulting anxiety experienced by the boy.

The photograph was of a then 10 year old Indigenous boy along with a ‘four page special’ covering issues such as youth crime, curfews, alleged delinquency, police and youth services

Well-known advocate, Peter O’Brien, who has formerly represented Dylan Voller and other Indigenous youths, drafted the Statement of Claim which was filed in the Supreme Court of the NT in which the following facts were presented:

  • The 10 year old boy was photographed without consent or knowledge;
  • He was photographed in a location that he was attending for a lawful purpose with friends and family; and
  • Publication of the image on the front page with the subject story carried several imputations: that the boy was a criminal, a delinquent, that he was imprisoned or detained or that he needed to be imprisoned or detained, and that he was contributing to a crisis situation.

The 10 year old boy was photographed without consent or knowledge

Whilst this matter is yet to be heard in full, it does not require any specific legal analysis to determine that this is an egregious departure from privacy laws and ethics in media. The young boy, who belongs to a vulnerable community, now has to go through more stress throughout the Court process, in order to clear his name and image that was carelessly harmed through yet another dehumanising article by hacks with an axe to grind.

We will continue to follow this case.

UPDATE: This matter has now been settled out of court.

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