Northern Territory Government Newsroom

Tennant Creek Incident – Internal Review Findings and Recommendations Released

Minister for Territory Families Dale Wakefield today released findings and recommendations of an internal Territory Families review into their ‘whole of life’ involvement with a child that was involved in an alleged sexual assault in Tennant Creek last month.

She said the review was thorough and identified areas for improvement across Government agencies.

“The safety of children is the most important thing and on this occasion we have failed a young child,” Ms Wakefield said.

The review has made 25 findings and 19 recommendations about internal practices and procedures of Territory Families, interagency coordination of services and support systems.

“The review found there were instances of good practice and support provided.  We have dedicated staff performing very complex jobs in difficult circumstances,” she said.

“However, the review identified Territory Families, and the former Department of Children and Families, did not have systems and processes to adequately assess safety and consider issues affecting the family as a whole.

“There is a need to improve staff skills and overall professional supervision within Territory Families.  

“The findings also highlight inadequate collaboration and referral systems between Territory Families and other government and non-government agencies.  There was a failure of shared accountability to ensure the safety of the child.

“It is clear we need a new client information system that enables effective information sharing within and between agencies.”

A full copy of the report and its recommendations has been provided to the Children’s Commissioner to inform her independent investigation into the incident and the care and services provided by Territory Families and other government agencies.

Ms Wakefield said that Government will wait for this report before providing a full response.

KEY actions that the Territory Labor Government will commence in the short term:

·         Immediately begin work on Rec 36.01 from the Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children (RCPDC) to address whole-of-government and community responses to child sexual exploitation.  Details will be provided in the release of the implementation plan to RCPDC in April

·         Commence planning for a new Client Information System with full capability to merge histories for clients and family members and avoid fragmentation of knowledge and interventions

·         Expedite the review of the Structured Decision Making Tools as recommended by this review and RCPDC Recommendation 32.01

·         Immediately commence the work on RCPDC Recommendation 32.04 to develop mandatory reporting guidelines for professional notifiers and greater education about these reports

·         Implement RCPDC Recommendation 32.06 to adopt a consistent definition of cumulative harm and guidelines to support practitioners to assess cumulative harm

·         Allocate a permanent Practice Leader to the Central Intake Team and proceed with the current restructuring of this team to improve professional supervision of statutory notification

In Tennant Creek, the following changes have occurred:

·         Four (4) extra child protection practitioners

·         A senior Aboriginal Community Worker

·         A youth outreach and re-engagement team leader

Further resources for Tennant Creek include:

·         The appointment of a Senior Director

·         The establishment of the domestic violence hub

·         Working closely with senior elders and respected persons to improve child safety


Note: A copy of the Findings and Recommendations is available upon request.


Media Contact: Paige Nguyen 0428 727 244