Almost three years after the Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the NT condemned an outdated system used by frontline staff, the Northern Territory Government is finally making an investment.
The IT overhaul has been flagged by Minister for Corporate and Digital Development, Paul Kirby, as "one of the biggest the NT has ever undertaken".
But Katherine's MLA Jo Hersey, while welcoming any new measures, says she is concerned implementation of the new system will continue to lag.
The NT Government plans to invest $64.4 million for a "contemporary digital solution case management and data exchange", which they say will mean "better information sharing and coordination to ensure we are better protecting vulnerable children".
In a statement released today, a government spokesperson said the "Care System" will enable Police, Territory Families, Housing and Communities, Health, Education, and Attorney General to access the same information in one centralised location.
"[They will be able] to create the one case file and share critical information in order to best manage each child's specific case," the statement said.
The Final Report of the Royal Commission, tabled in Parliament on November 17, 2017 highlighted "the whole welfare system needed big changes".
In the report overview, evidence from organisations, and individuals caught in the system, revealed the child protection system in the Territory often could not protect vulnerable or at risk children and families.
"The welfare system did not have enough staff or resources to deal with the problems. The services did not work together or talk to each other to give children and families the support they needed to stay together and grow healthy and strong," the overview read.
While it is an important step on the road to change, Mrs Hersey said it should have been higher on the agenda for the Territory Government and sorted long ago.
"This was a recommendation from the Children's Commissioner back in May 2018. Just weeks after that report was released, Labor promised the implementation of a new IT system to record and share information between agencies," she said.
"Given the criticisms of identified in the Children's Commissioner's report, this should have been a priority for this government.
"So, what has it taken more than two and half years just to get to the tender stage?
"We know this government has a woeful track record of keeping to budget and timelines so it could still be years before this system is actually up and running."
The NT Government says the program is scheduled for completion in late 2022, with the awarding of the tender to UK-based software supplier LiquidLogic and local Territory Business SRA.
Minister for Territory Families and Urban Housing, Kate Worden said 72 per cent of Territory Families, Housing and Communities' core reporting is recorded outside of the approved computer system, which is more than 25 years old.
"The new Care System will give our hardworking frontline staff in child protection and youth justice the tools they need to better protect our most vulnerable children," she said.
"The creation of the Care System and the delivery of the program is all about it being based on the child. We want to make sure we are keeping up to date information on our vulnerable families, so we can assist quickly and proactively."
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