The NT Royal Commission was told Territory Families cannot keep qualified staff in Katherine tasked to child protection cases.
“Territory Families identified difficulties in attracting and retaining people well qualified to undertake the work in the Katherine office,” the Commission report states.
“It is not unusual for senior practitioners in the Katherine Investigation and Assessment Team to carry a caseload of more than 100 child protection investigations.
“This indicates that children in Katherine are currently at risk and that more staff are needed to prevent further increases in the number of overdue investigation.
“Staff members in the Katherine Investigation and Assessment Team have raised concerns with management higher up in Territory Families.”
The Royal Commission has also told the government to provide bail support services for children in Katherine.
Those services would include accommodation, bail support plans and referral to services and practical life skills support to assist the young person.
Territory Families told the Commission they were “securing a facility in Katherine” for bail accommodation.
They have also recommended that youth court in Katherine be scheduled on days or times when no adult matters are scheduled.
The final report from the $54 million inquiry was released this morning.
Almost 50 Katherine residents told their stories to the commission which helped shaped recommendations.
The inquiry also found that waiting times for public housing in Katherine is as long as six years.
The bottom line is our youth justice system is failing to rehabilitate children.
Other key findings:
- The NT government failing to comply with the requirements for children in out-of-home care,
- A major shortage of available foster care arrangements,
- A long-term failure to provide support for children in out-of-home care to help them avoid a descent into criminal behaviour,
- The NT Children's Commissioner does not have to resources to do its job.
The Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory was sparked by a haunting report made by ABC’s Four Corners program.
It was the image of Dylan Voller, then a 17-year-old, strapped to a mechanical chair by his ankles, wrists, shoulders and neck with a "spithood" over his head, that shocked the nation.
Voller's story immediately triggered an inquiry into the NT’s youth detention system.
Fifteen months later, after hearing from 214 witnesses, the commission has finished its work.
Today, it hands down its findings, which commissioners Mick Gooda and Margaret White have labelled "disturbing on many levels".
"I think it is too late for people like me, that I've missed my chance," one witness told the investigation.
"I would like the royal commission to make these changes for kids who are in detention now."
- A network of family support centres to aid families across the NT,
- A "paradigm shift" in youth justice to increase diversion and therapeutic tactics before young people enter a life of crime,
- An entirely new model for bail and secure detention,
- Improved engagement with Indigenous organisation.
The Federal Government has recognised the courage of the children and young people, their families and communities who have shared their views, experiences and personal stories that have been so critical to informing the Royal Commission’s findings.
The Royal Commission’s final report is available at: https://childdetentionnt.royalcommission.gov.au/Pages/Report.aspx