Safe, Thriving and Connected | First Progress Report

The Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the NT Final Report was handed down one year ago.

The Northern Territory Government accepted the intent and direction of all 227 recommendations, and in April this year committed an additional $229.6 million over five years to implement the reforms outlined in Safe, Thriving and Connected and better support children, young people and families experiencing vulnerability.

The First Progress Report was released on 16 November 2018 and outlines the substantial progress that has been made seven months into the reform journey.

Of the 218 recommendations that relate to action by the Government, 33 are now complete, 47 are well progressed, 122 are underway, and 16 not yet started.

Key achievements include:

  • Legislative reform to amend the Youth Justice Act to give Territory Families legal responsibility for youth justice and improve the wellbeing of young people in detention by prohibiting the use of restraints and limiting the use of force, isolation and strip searches for young people in detention
  • Completion of $10.48 million significant ‘fix and make safe’ works at Don Dale and Alice Springs Youth Detention Centres, including new and separate education and female accommodation facilities at the Alice Springs Centre
  • Design tender released for the development of new, purpose-built youth justice centres in Darwin and Alice Springs
  • Increased participation and improved partnerships with Aboriginal organisations and families to increase local decision-making and Aboriginal involvement in the child protection and youth justice systems
  • Reforming and streamlining the child protection processes. This includes the One Child One Case approach for frontline child protection staff, which will increase efficiency so that they can spend more time with vulnerable children and their families. Central Intake Services has also been redesigned to better manage the high demand of notifications and provide a more timely service to the community
  • Construction of the Tennant Creek Child and Family Centre is underway – the first of 11 new centres to be built across the Northern Territory over the next five years
  • Development of a multi-agency Crossover Family Working Group to increase information-sharing and co-ordination of service response provided to young people and their families in the child protection and youth justice systems
  • Additional funding of $2.5 million to increase the independent Office of the Children’s Commissioner’s capacity to monitor and audit the child protection and youth justice systems

The next major milestones will be delivered by 30 June next year. They include:

  • Open the Tennant Creek Child and Family Centre
  • Launch and implement the Signs of Safety practice framework in the NT
  • Renovate the Alice Springs Local Court to include a multi-purpose court for matters relating to children and young people
  • Finalise the design tender for development of the Don Dale Youth Detention Centre
  • Establish two more Child and Family Centres
  • Release and begin implementation of the Aboriginal Out-of-Home Care strategy
  • Commence Aboriginal foster and kinship carer programs
  • Draft and introduce the next round of priority legislative amendments
  • Commence the Community Youth Support Grants program and expand access to youth diversion
  • Finalise three more Local Decision-Making agreements
  • Continue improvements in youth detention operations, practice and staff training