Northern Territory reform

Northern Territory Royal Commission

On 28 July 2016, former Prime Minister, the Hon Malcolm Turnbull MP, announced the Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory (Royal Commission).

The Royal Commission focused on the specific systemic problems identified in the Northern Territory (NT). It looked at:

  • how those problems arose
  • the failure to identify and correct them
  • appropriate reforms.

On 17 November 2017, the Royal Commission released its Final Report. The report contains 147 findings and makes 227 recommendations. It outlines a long-term reform agenda for the NT’s child protection and youth justice systems.

Of the 227 recommendations, 198 are matters for the NT Government. The NT Government is responsible for managing and administering their child protection and youth justice systems. One further recommendation (3.2) is for the Northern, Central, Tiwi and Anindilyakwa Land Councils.

The Australian Government released a response to the Report on 8 February 2018. The Australian Government has sole or joint responsibility for 28 recommendations. It supports, or supports in-principle, 26 of these.

The Department of Social Services (DSS) is responsible for coordinating work across the Australian Government to respond to the 26 recommendations.

Key reforms

There are a number of key reforms based on these recommendations.

Productivity Commission report

On 8 April 2020, the Productivity Commission released its Final Report on Expenditure on Children in the NT. A recommendation of the Royal Commission, the report is about how the Australian and NT Governments can work more collaboratively so their investments improve outcomes for children and families.

The Australian Government released a response to the Report on 18 May 2021, supporting its recommendations in-principle.

Children and Families Tripartite Forum

DSS is part of a 3-way partnership with the:

  • NT community sector
  • NT Government
  • other Australian Government agencies.

The partnership is called the Children and Families Tripartite Forum (Tripartite Forum). The Tripartite Forum works to improve services for children, young people and families in the NT. It provides advice to guide and support the implementation of the reform agenda arising from the Royal Commission.

Read more about the NT Children and Families Tripartite Forum.

The Tripartite Forum works to improve shared decision-making. The forum has developed:

The Tripartite Forum also provided consultation on the NT Coordinated Investment Framework (CIF).

These documents also support other national reforms to help children and families, including:

10-Year Generational Strategy

The 10-Year Generational Strategy sets out how governments, service providers and local communities can work together to provide better service delivery and support. It gives communities more say in the support services they receive. It also helps align investment to the needs of these communities.

Read the 10-Year Generational Strategy for Children and Families in the NT.

Action Plan 1 - Planting the Seeds

The Action Plan 1 - Planting the Seeds is a 2-year plan that lays the foundations for implementing the Generational Strategy. It establishes a way of working that is driven by the aspirations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and builds on community strengths through community-led planning and approaches.

Read Action Plan 1 - Planting the Seeds

NT Coordinated Investment Framework

The CIF is an agreement between the Australian and NT Governments. It aims to improve the distribution and coordination of investment in children and family services in the NT.

Read the NT Coordinated Investment Framework.

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