Australian Government Response to the Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory8 February 2018
On 17 November 2017, the Final Report of the Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory was handed to the Commonwealth and Northern Territory Governments. The Report outlines a long-term reform agenda to the child protection and youth justice systems in the Northern Territory that aims to make a real difference to the lives and opportunities for vulnerable children and families.
The Commonwealth Government again thanks those who contributed to the Commission’s work, particularly the two commissioners Ms Margaret White AO and Mr Mick Gooda.
While the majority of the findings and recommendations are matters for the Northern Territory Government, which has responsibility for Northern Territory child protection and youth justice systems, there are a number of recommendations that solely or partially relate to the Commonwealth and we are committed to taking action where appropriate.
The Commonwealth, jointly with the Northern Territory Government, established the Royal Commission in response to reports of systemic failings in the justice and welfare systems in the Northern Territory and the Commonwealth is committed to working with the Northern Territory Government to improve these systems and the safety of children.
Additionally, while noting that this was a non-Indigenous specific Royal Commission, the Commonwealth recognises the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in both the child protection and youth justice systems, and is committed to working with Indigenous people and their representatives to address those recommendations for which the Commonwealth has a clear role.
Given these commitments, the Commonwealth Government supports the Commission’s recommendations in relation to improving partnership arrangements with the Northern Territory Government and communities to achieve better outcomes for children.
The Commonwealth’s investment in the Northern Territory is already significant, with $4.2 billion invested in 2017-18. The Commonwealth is constantly evaluating its policies, programmes and spending to ensure that they are achieving the intended outcomes for all Australians. We therefore support the Commission’s recommendation for a review into Commonwealth funding in the Northern Territory and stand ready to make adjustments if required.
The Commonwealth also supports the Commission’s recommendations in relation to taking placed based approaches to implementing responses, and this aligns with the work the Commonwealth is already doing in relation to its programs.
The following table outlines the Commonwealth’s position against each recommendation it has a role in responding to, noting the Commonwealth supports the majority of recommendations. The Commonwealth again reiterates its commitment to working with the Northern Territory Government and all stakeholders to progress this important work.