ADG ensured the design of two Northern Territory Youth Justice Centres in Darwin and Alice Springs were secure and fit-for-purpose, enabling the Northern Territory Government to deliver a new model for youth justice and meet the recommendations of the Royal Commission.







project details


Alice Springs and Darwin, Northern Territory


Bennett Design Pty Ltd

Project timeline



Following the findings of the Royal Commission into the Detention and Protection of Children in the Northern Territory in 2017, the Northern Territory Government committed to the decommissioning of the Don Dale Youth Detention Centre to be replaced with a new, secure and purposefully designed Youth Justice Centre in Darwin. This involved the design of 10 individual buildings with Importance Level 3 and 4 design requirements to mitigate against major cyclonic wind events.

A second Youth Justice Centre in Alice Springs comprised significant upgrades and refurbishments to the existing facility, and the design of two new buildings.

Key challenges associated with both projects included:

  • Analysis and design requirements to ensure the Darwin project withstood cyclonic wind events
  • Understanding the unique stakeholder requirements, including safety and centre security
  • Balancing the architectural design vision with practical solutions
  • Points of access and control throughout the centres
  • Lack of in-ground drainage.

ADG, led by Regional Manager — NT/WA Brian Loughlin, worked with Bennett Design to produce practical, structural solutions, while maintaining security requirements. For the Darwin project, the structural design incorporated a debris impact-protected façade to minimise internal pressures in cyclonic winds, maintaining functionality during and after weather events.
While underground drainage infrastructure was not an available design option due to security implications, ADG Engineers focused on developing a stormwater regime for both facilities, establishing an overland sheet flow network that comprised a series of open channels. This network leveraged the natural topography of the land while minimising earthworks activities to the sites.


ADG actively engaged with project stakeholders, including the consultant team, to deliver a quality, aesthetic and economical civil and structural engineering design. Importantly, the innovative design concepts ensured the 10 new buildings were cyclone-resilient and adhered to the facilities’ security requirements.

The design was well received by the Northern Territory Department of Infrastructure, Planning and Logistics, and Territory Families.

“By working collaboratively with Bennett Design, we delivered an innovative, fit-for-purpose solution without sacrificing vital design and safety constraints.”

- Brian Loughlin, ADG Regional Manager — NT/WA
the Team
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