Northern Territory Government Newsroom

STATEMENT: Royal Commission into Child Protection and Youth Detention Systems

The Northern Territory Government welcomes the establishment of a Royal Commission into the Child Protection and Youth Detention Systems of the Northern Territory.

The Governor-General has issued Letters Patent to establish a Royal Commission into the Child Protection and Youth Detention Systems of the Northern Territory, and to appoint Mr Brian Ross Martin AO QC as Royal Commissioner.

The Royal Commission will be conducted jointly with the Australian Government.

Chief Minister Adam Giles thanked the Prime Minister, the Attorney-General and Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion for agreeing to broad terms of reference which look at historical and cultural issues in addition to the current situation.

“There are too many Aboriginal people in Northern Territory prisons,” Mr Giles said.

“It is commonly known that there is an over representation of Aboriginal Territorians in the justice system. That must change.

“The disturbing images seen by many Australians this week highlight in a graphic and confronting way that significant reform is needed.

“The Royal Commission is an opportunity to right the wrongs of the past.”

The Royal Commission is due to report by 31 March 2017.

It will focus on the specific systemic problems identified within the Northern Territory, how those problems arose, any failure to identify and correct them, and appropriate reforms. 

Specifically, the Royal Commission has been asked to examine:

The Royal Commission will also make recommendations about legal, cultural, administrative and management reforms to prevent inappropriate treatment of children and young persons in detention, and what improvements can be made to the child protection system. 

Mr Giles said the Northern Territory Government welcomes the appointment of Mr Brian Ross Martin AO QC as the Royal Commissioner.

Mr Martin has a deep understanding of the legal and justice systems of the Northern Territory, and deep familiarity with issues arising from the engagement of indigenous people with criminal justice and penal systems.

Media contact: Michael Gorey 0437 249 003