Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the NT | Initial NT Government Response

The NT Government’s general position on the Royal Commission report was summarised by the Chief Minister when he tabled the Report in Parliament:

We support the Royal Commission’s approach, and our reform program of the last 12 months aligns with that approach. We are looking at rehabilitation and building our kids up, not breaking them down, and doing everything we can to make sure Territorians are safe, our children are safe and that we are not engaged in a system that turns young children into adult criminals. That makes all people in the Territory safer.

Read the Chief Minister’s, and Minister Dale Wakefield’s, full statement. PDF (525.7 KB)

The NT Government has already agreed in principle to:

  • close Don Dale Youth Detention Centre’s high security unit
  • close the Don Dale Youth Detention Centre and the Alice Springs Youth Detention Centre and construct new secure accommodation – committing $50 million towards setting up youth justice infrastructure and requesting the Commonwealth to match this funding
  • place greater emphasis on diversion at the point of police contact, and alternatives to detention
  • introduce supported bail accommodation to keep young people out of detention
  • introduce a single Act for child protection and youth justice
  • expand the Office of the Children’s Commissioner to become a Commission for Children and Young People, with more wide-ranging powers
  • implement a public health approach to child protection with greater involvement of the Aboriginal community controlled sector in family support and early intervention.

Next steps

The Reform Management Office (RMO) began work in November 2017 to analyse the Royal Commission report’s findings and recommendations and discuss these with a wide range of stakeholders.  These stakeholders include Northern Territory government agencies, the Commonwealth, Aboriginal-controlled organisations and other non-government agencies, and families in local communities.

The Northern Territory Government intends to provide a preliminary response to the Royal Commission recommendations by the end of February 2018, and a more comprehensive response outlining its whole-of-government implementation plan by the end of March.

Ongoing engagement with all stakeholders will be critical to successful implementation of the Government’s reform agenda for child protection and youth justice.

In their report, the Commissioners estimated it would take up to 10 years to completely reform the current child protection and youth justice systems.

The Northern Territory Government is determined to improve the systems in a shorter time frame, but acknowledges that it will still take a number of years to see the full benefits – for individuals, families and communities – arising from the major changes already underway.

The Reform Management Office will update this website regularly to provide information about progress on the reform agenda.