NACCHO Aboriginal Children’s Health #NTRC : Download 35 Page NT Government Response to the 227 Recommendations of the #RoyalCommission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory

“The Royal Commission final report recommendations aligns with the path of reform that we have undertaken since coming to Government, including sweeping alcohol reforms announced yesterday.”

 217 of the recommendations relate to action by the Northern Territory Government, which have been mapped into a framework of 17 work programs.

There are another 10 recommendations which we accept the intent and direction of, however they require actions by the Commonwealth Government and other organisations.

“We need coordinated effort to make effective, meaningful and generational change to our youth justice and child protection systems. Now more than ever, we need the support of the Commonwealth Government working in collaboration with the Northern Territory Government and the Aboriginal-controlled and non-government sector.”

Minister for Territory Families Dale Wakefield announced that the Territory Labor Government will accept the intent and direction of all 227 Royal Commission recommendations, delivered in its final report late last year.

Download 35 Page NACCHO PDF

Download NT Government responses to 227 NTRC recommendations

Picture Above : NT Minister Dale Wakefield with the support  from some of the NT’s peak Aboriginal bodies, including NACCHO members Olga Havnen from Danila Dilba ACCHO and John Paterson from AMSANT saying the government’s approach is the right start

Our child protection and youth justice systems are broken and only fundamental, wholesale reform of the systems can improve outcomes for the Aboriginal children and young people in the Northern Territory,”

“These reforms need to be driven and led by Aboriginal organisations and people. We advocate for a new single act to regulate both youth justice and child protection systems.”

John Paterson, CEO of Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance Northern Territory (AMSANT) said that the peak body welcomes the Territory Government’s response to the Royal Commission recommendations

Read over 56 NACCHO NTRC DonDale articles HERE

 ” The Northern Territory Government says it supports either in full or in principle all 227 of the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Youth Detention and Child Protection, but does not appear to have committed funds to make the necessary sweeping changes ”

ABC Darwin Media Coverage see Part 2 Below or HERE in Full

Part 1 : NT Government Press Release

The report was borne out of the treatment of children in the care of the Northern Territory and it is a story of our failures to care, protect and build those who needed it most.

Minister for Territory Families Dale Wakefield said that the Territory Labor Government took responsibility for those failures and, since August 2016, has embarked on historic youth justice and child protection reforms.

This includes the $18.2 million a year overhaul of youth justice in the Northern Territory, announced one year ago.

Last month the Territory Labor Government also announced that $70 million will be allocated to replace both the Don Dale Youth Detention Centre and the Alice Springs Youth

Detention Centre with two new youth justice centres.

“Making meaningful change that improves the lives of children and families is at the heart of the Territory Labor Government’s decision making,” Ms Wakefield said.

“We made an election promise that we would get young people back on the right path and away from a cycle of crime. In order for our communities to be safer and stronger, every Territory child MUST have pathways for a bright future.

The 17 work programs will come under four major objectives:

  1. Putting Children and Families at the Centre
  2. Improving Care and Protection
  3. Improving Youth Justice
  4. Strengthening Governance and Systems

The work programs framework is a Whole-of-Government approach to consider the most effective way to allocate budget, resources, and timeframes that will be required to implement reform.

The Territory Labor Government is considering a submission for resourcing impacts as part of the 2018-19 Budget development process and will provide an implementation plan for consideration in late March.

The key reforms that have been underway since August 2016 include:

  • $18.2 million Better Outcomes for Youth Justice reform package
  • $3 million invested in Family Enhanced Support Services (FESS)
  • Bail support services and accommodation facilities
  • Expansion of victim conferencing
  • Establishing five year NGO funding arrangements
  • The establishment of Youth Outreach and Reengagement Teams (YORET)
  • Recruitment of Transition Care Officers

Media Coverage ABC Darwin

NT royal commission: Government promises overhaul of ‘broken’ child protection and youth justice

By Neda Vanovac 

FROM ABC DARWIN

The Northern Territory Government says it supports either in full or in principle all 227 of the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Youth Detention and Child Protection, but does not appear to have committed funds to make the necessary sweeping changes.

Key points:

  • The NT Government has offered “in principle” support for almost half the recommendations, supports the rest
  • It has not announced what funding it will put forward or for which measures
  • The announcement comes after a week of sustained fire after a toddler was allegedly raped following Territory Families’ failure to act on 21 notifications

NT Chief Minister Michael Gunner apologised for the failings of successive NT governments, calling it “a stain on the NT’s reputation” and announced a comprehensive overhaul of the youth justice and child protection systems.

On Thursday it announced its full response; however, about half of the recommendations were listed as “supported in principle” and it was not clear what that meant in terms of government action and funding commitment.

“I am determined that this is not going to be another report that sits on a shelf.

“We have to make generational change to make a difference, and we are absolutely committed to that.”

“For those of us who have been working in the youth justice system for the past 10 or so years and seen these issues play out, these are really welcome steps,” Jesuit Social Services CEO Jared Sharp said.

“This is our once-in-a-generation opportunity to get this right. We’ve got a royal commission that’s given us the blueprint, we now have to implement it.”

The Government says 217 recommendations relate to action it can take, with another 10 recommendations requiring action by the Federal Government and other organisations.

The Government has split the recommendations into 17 work programs divided into four groups: putting children and families first; improving care and protection of children; improving youth justice systems; and strengthening governance.

Some of the major recommendations which have only been listed as having in-principle support included:

  • Increasing the age of criminal responsibility from 10 to 12
  • That youths under 14 cannot be detained except in exceptional circumstances
  • Overhauling the foster care system
  • Overhauling the Care and Protection of Children Act NT
  • Creating, staffing and resourcing a Commission for Children and Young People
  • Having a ratio of one teacher to five students and teachers appropriately qualified in special education
  • Having sufficient female youth detention officers to oversee female detainees
  • Overhauling the case management system
  • Introducing body-worn video cameras
  • That children can only be held by police for up to four hours without charge.

Funding did not appear to be set aside for the extensive changes, but the Government said it was “considering a submission for resourcing impacts as part of the 2018-19 budget development process and will provide an implementation plan” for consideration in late March.

Children’s Commissioner Colleen Gwynne has previously said she wanted a firmer commitment.”As a commissioner when I get those sort of responses from service providers I don’t accept that, I say ‘You either accept it or you don’t accept it’.”

Announcement follows alleged rape of Tennant Creek toddler

Territory Families has been under sustained fire for its response to the incident, after it was reported the family was subject to more than 20 notifications to Territory Families in the months before the incident but that little action had been taken.

But Mr Gunner said he supported Mr Davies and Territory Families Minister Dale Wakefield, and that sacking them would be a step backwards.

“I don’t think those two issues around culture versus safety are actually mutually exclusive, I think you can do both,” she said.

There are currently 1,060 children in care in the NT.She also said the Government wanted to improve its partnerships with NGOs and Aboriginal communities.”

As a department, as whole of Government, we need to get better at working with communities, rather than doing things to communities.”

“Our child protection and youth justice systems are broken, and only fundamental, wholesale reform of the systems can improve outcomes for the Aboriginal children and young people in the NT,” he said.

You can view the full July 2016 story on the Four Corners website.

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