Youth justice officers get just four weeks training before working with often dangerous offenders at Darwin's Don Dale Youth Detention Centre where a riot occurred this week.
Northern Territory Families Minister Dale Wakefield cannot yet say when the centre will re-open because it remains a crime scene after Tuesday night's rampage.
"Until we get in and have a good look at the extent of the damage and how quickly we can get the CCTV up, that will have an impact on how quickly we can get back into the facility," she told reporters on Thursday.
The 25 youth inmates at Don Dale are currently in the police watch house.
Rioting began when two detainees assaulted a youth justice worker with a metal bar and stole his keys. They are still to be found, which is another reason the centre hasn't been reopened.
The pair also released other detainees before setting alight and destroying an education building and using angle grinders to try to escape.
Three other officers were trapped in a block with youths who didn't riot, while a female officer and inmate locked themselves in a room while waiting an hour for police to arrive.
The situation was terrifying and traumatic for staff both trapped inside and those watching on CCTV and talking to them, Community and Public Sector Union NT secretary Kay Densley said.
Some of the staff have just four weeks training before they are potentially exposed to violent offenders including murderers and rapists.
Ms Densley said there had even been casuals employed with no training but who had worked at immigration detention centres to deal with staff shortages.
"They say that it is adequate but with incidents like this happening you have to doubt that it is, they do some practical use of force training but it used to be a lot of theory," she told AAP.
"They seem to be focusing on rehabilitation and the therapeutic side and don't seem to be concentrating on security."
Training was ad hoc, some staff had never participated in a riot drill and the incident was not isolated with a staff member punched in the face last weekend.
There were not enough consequences for bad behaviour such as the removal of privileges due to a lack of standard operating procedures, she said.
Police union president Paul McCue said safety procedures and processes were not in place if youths were able to riot.
A Royal Commission this year made 220 recommendations for fixing a broken detention system, including that Don Dale be closed along after TV footage aired of teenagers being tear-gassed, spit-hooded and shackled.
Territory Families CEO Ken Davies said training was being increased to seven weeks and currently new employees were coupled up with experienced officers.
The NT government has been continually recruiting new youth justice officers this year to deal with worker and union complaints about chronic understaffing but has created problems with inexperience and attrition rates as people decide to leave.