Commonwealth Government response to the Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory

Media release
08 Feb 2018
Prime Minister, Minister for Social Services, Minister for Indigenous Affairs
Health and Social Services, Indigenous Affairs

The Commonwealth Government will focus on improved national leadership and the coordination of early intervention for at-risk children in its response to the Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory.

The Government has carefully considered the report and responded in a timely manner.

While the majority of the findings and recommendations are matters for the Northern Territory Government, which has responsibility for child protection and youth justice systems, there are a number of recommendations that solely or partially relate to the Commonwealth and we are committed to taking action where appropriate.

The Commonwealth invests $790 million of the Indigenous Advancement Strategy (IAS) into the Northern Territory, including one third of the Safety and Wellbeing Programme funding under the IAS. The Commission found the issue is not a lack of funding, rather, it is the lack of coordination and understanding of how that money is spent and what outcomes are being achieved.

The Commonwealth is committed to working more closely with the Northern Territory government, leaders and Aboriginal communities to better prioritise and coordinate a place based approach. We have committed $53 million to implement a whole-of-government research and evaluation strategy for policies and programs affecting Indigenous Australians.

Key recommendations for the Commonwealth relate to the need for improved national leadership and coordination around early intervention and preventing children from entering the youth justice and child protection systems. This will include:

  • Improving community engagement and partnerships
  • Reviewing the approach to funding and evaluation including an audit of all funding going into the Northern Territory
  • Taking a place-based approach to change
  • Improving data collection and data sharing

The Commonwealth is committed to improving partnership arrangements with the Northern Territory Government to ensure investments achieve improved outcomes for children, and make the community a safer place for everyone.

The Commonwealth has written to jurisdictions offering to fund the Custody Notification Scheme, including the Northern Territory, and we strongly encourage them to accept our offer.

The Commonwealth has sole or joint responsibility for 28 of the Commission’s 226 recommendations and Minister for Social Services Dan Tehan will lead the Commonwealth Government’s response.

The Commonwealth response can be found at the Department of Social Services website.