Royal Commission into the Protection and
Detention of Children in the Northern Territory

 Royal Commission hears from Northern Territory communities

3 November 2016

The Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory recently wrapped up community meetings and youth forums in the Top End, Central Australia and the Barkly region.

Over the last few months, we were warmly welcomed into 10 communities across the Northern Territory as well as in Darwin and Alice Springs and heard first-hand about the issues facing communities. We thank and acknowledge the courage of people who shared their stories and ideas with us.

Commissioners Mick Gooda and Margaret White AO were pleased to see that the 27 meetings and forums held were attended by such a wide range of people affected by child protection and youth detention issues including children, parents and carers, school teachers and principals, police officers, current and former employees of relevant Northern Territory agencies, health workers and other service providers.

We heard many tragic stories and identified some serious issues that we will look into further during the inquiry. We also heard many good ideas and solutions from communities that could help address some of the challenges communities face.

Themes that emerged across the meetings included the need for community based programs that are driven by the communities, early intervention to keep children in their homes, and where this was not possible the need for kinship carers to ensure cultural connectivity.

Engaging with communities is very important to inform our understanding of the issues to ensure the recommendations that will lead to positive change for the communities and a better future for children.

We will continue speaking with communities to keep them informed about what we are hearing, the issues being identified and ways the communities can continue to be involved.

While we have had many people come forward and share their experiences with us, we would still like to hear firsthand the experiences of children who have been in detention previously, or are still in detention. Arrangements can be made for children to speak with us in private. Your information can be kept confident and you can choose to remain anonymous.

We understand that discussing experiences of the child protection system or time spent in youth detention is difficult. There are a number of support services available by calling 1800 500 853.

We thank the communities of Darwin, Tiwi Islands, Alice Springs, Santa Teresa, Maningrida, Tennant Creek, Katherine, Yirrkala, Groote Eylandt, Yuendumu, Kalkarindji and Mutitjulu for their contributions.

The Groote Eylandt community talks to Commissioner Margaret White AO on a recent visit by the Royal Commission.
The Groote Eylandt community talks to Commissioner Margaret White AO on a recent visit by the Royal Commission.