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.

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.

10-Year Generational Strategy and Coordinated Investment Framework

Two key documents, released on 3 March 2023, outline a new way to work with children, young people and families in the NT. These documents are:

The 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 will also help align investment to the needs of these communities.

The NT Children and Families Tripartite Forum (Tripartite Forum) developed the Generational Strategy. Senior officials from the community sector and the Australian and NT Governments make up the Tripartite Forum.

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. The Tripartite Forum consulted on the development of the CIF agreement.

These documents also fulfil recommendations of the Royal Commission.

This work supports other national reforms to help children and families, including:

The Tripartite Forum is developing the first of 3 action plans under the Generational Strategy. It is expected to be released in the first half of 2023.

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