Darwin's notorious Don Dale detention centre is empty and been closed indefinitely following a violent riot in which youth detainees bashed and stole keys from a guard.
The rampage has sparked strong criticism of the Northern Territory government and its efforts in committing $229.6 million to fix the youth justice system.
All of the Top End's 24 male juvenile inmates were being housed at the Darwin watch house on Wednesday night with the Don Dale centre declared a crime scene.
Its sole female inmate was to be moved elsewhere.
The riot started on Tuesday when two detainees assaulted a youth justice worker. With the attack captured on camera, they stole his keys and released others from their cells.
The worker suffered lacerations, which required stitches.
A group of about 12 inmates were involved in the uprising in which flames and smoke were seen into the early hours of Wednesday
The facility's school was destroyed by fire, with fuel stolen to use as an accelerant, while angle grinders were taken to cut fences in a bid to escape.
It took more than seven hours to find all detainees and restore order using tear gas after youths also threw items at police cars.
Criminal charges will be laid.
Worried parents drove to the centre after hearing about the riot, with calls for indigenous elders to be invited to help.
It is a year since a Royal Commission recommended Don Dale be closed and more than six months since the Territory government accepted all 227 recommendations for fixing its broken detention system.
The Royal Commission was ordered after TV footage aired of teenagers being tear-gassed, spit-hooded and shackled.
One, Aboriginal teen Dylan Voller, told ABC radio on Wednesday the youth "are not out there rioting for nothing ... there is something happening in that detention centre".
NT deputy chief minister Nicole Manison insisted conditions at Don Dale had improved and there was 'no excuse" for a worker to be attacked.
However she wasn't able to say when a new centre, with all the complications involved, would be built.
Non-government organisations including the Human Rights Law Centre, Amnesty International and National Indigenous Critical Response Service said conditions were not improving.
"A case against the government regarding treatment of young people is before the court ... this incident shows that Don Dale is at crisis point," Amnesty International's Indigenous Rights Adviser Rodney Dillon said.
NT Children's Commissioner Colleen Gwynne said the riot was disappointing because there had been "some success" in fixing the system.
It increased the urgency for building modern centres in which workers would not be carrying keys that could be stolen, she told AAP.
However Northern Territory Police Association president Paul McCue said Territory Families were incompetent and "failed to ensure proper basic safety procedures" were in place at the centre.
Country Liberal deputy leader Lia Finocchiaro said it was clear the government was unable to deal with youth justice as a portfolio.