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Report says children lack protection in the NT

Report says children lack protection in the NT

The Northern Territory child protection system has been described as an "overwhelming failure" in a report handed to Chief Minister Paul Henderson today.The inquiry was commissioned in November…

The Northern Territory child protection system has been described as an "overwhelming failure" in a report handed to Chief Minister Paul Henderson today.

The inquiry was commissioned in November 2009 shortly after the deaths of two children known to the Department of Health and Families.

The report found that the child protection system in the Northern Territory is overburdened, with nearly 1000 children currently identified as being at risk receiving no support or investigation.

The report said that the imposition of mandatory reporting over five years ago wasn't supported with increased funding or resources. The Territory's Aboriginal community alone has seen a tripling of children in out-of-home care to 555 in the past 10 years.

The report also found that Aboriginal children are four times more likely as non-Aboriginal children to be in care.

"We have called for the development of appropriate Aboriginal-controlled services for child protection and out-of-care services, Professor Muriel Bamblett, one of the inquiry's three co-chairs, said. "They hardly exist in the Northern Territory."

The inquiry received 236 submissions, including from the Northern Territory Law Society, and has made 147 recommendations.

Included in the recommendations is that a single court be created to hear both child protection and youth justice matters in isolation from adult courts.

Other key recommendations include the courts having the right to review long-term orders regarding a child's safety and stability, the creation of 20 child safety and wellbeing teams for 20 growth towns, a total review of residential care and the feasibility of partnering with other jurisdictions to develop a new residential care strategy.

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