Northern Territory Government Newsroom

Budget 2019: Creating Generational Change and Transforming the Territory’s Out of Home Care System

The Territory Labor Government is transforming the Territory’s out of home care system to give vulnerable children and young people the best chance for a bright future.

Budget 2019 will see an additional $20 million invested into out of home care services, taking the total budget to $128.4 million.  

This investment includes implementation of a new out of home care model and supports the day-to-day costs of the system.

Transforming the out of home care system is essential to better reflect the current needs of children in care.

The latest data shows that almost 90% of children and young people who are currently in care are Aboriginal. One third of these children are being cared for by Aboriginal people.

The new out of home care model prioritises children being placed with family when it is safe to do so. This gives them the best chance for a bright future by being connected to culture, family and country.

Key elements of the new out of home care system include:

·         Five care options: kinship care, Aboriginal foster care, non-Indigenous foster care, therapeutic home-based care, and therapeutic residential care

·         Focus on family-based placements, rather than group homes or purchased home-based care, and keeping siblings together wherever possible

·         Greater stability in placements

·         Increase in treatment programs and services – under the new model, trauma informed care and specialised support will be available for every child and young person in care  

·         Increase in specialist support for carers

·         Ensuring that children and young people who are leaving care have a tailored care plan and receive the support that they need as they transition

Development and implementation of the new out of home care model will occur over three years and in three phases:

·         Phase 1: June 2019 – December 2019
Establish a new out of home care contract model, service mix and therapeutic approach

·         Phase 2: January 2020 – December 2020
Embedding Aboriginal-led service delivery and building service capacity

·         Phase 3: January 2021 – December 2021
Establishing a strong out of home care system

Transforming the out of home care system covers 13 recommendations from the Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the NT and 15 from the national Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

Quotes from Minister for Territory Families, Dale Wakefield

"Every child deserves a childhood where they are safe and connected with their culture and identity. The Territory Labor Government is transforming the Territory’s out of home care system to give vulnerable children and young people the best chance for a bright future.

“We currently have over 1000 children in out-of-home care and almost 90% of these children are Aboriginal. The out of home care reform ensures that we increase our support services to better reflect the unique needs of each child.

“A child’s safety will always be paramount and remains the most important factor in the out of home care system. Our reform is also empowering and giving greater decision-making power to Aboriginal people and Aboriginal-controlled organisations.”

Quotes from CEO of Foster & Kinship Carers Association NT, Ann Owen

Foster and Kinship Carers Association NT absolutely welcomes the reforms to the out-of-home care system as it puts children and young people at the centre of all decision-making.

"It’s fantastic to see family and foster carers prioritised in the new model as it is critical that children maintain connection to their family, country, culture and community wherever possible.

“It is vital that strong partnerships are maintained and enhanced with Peak Bodies, Aboriginal organisations and community groups under the new system so that we can grow on this journey together and ensure this new out-of-home care model is sustainable.”

Quotes from CEO of Larrakia Nation, Robert Cooper

“Larrakia Nation is pleased the new out-of-home care model focuses on prioritising and increasing the number of Aboriginal family and foster carers. There is an over-representation of Aboriginal children in care and it is important, that where possible children remain connected to family and community as this will ensure they are cared for in a way that respects their culture and assists them to maintain their cultural identity.

“Our goal is to increase the number of children that are placed with families and Aboriginal foster carers through our family finding program. As part of this we are working with families, using an Aboriginal family-led decision-making model to assist in decision-making about the future care of children, undertake kinship mapping and hold family meetings and provide advice and support through the carer application process.”

Media Contact:

Paige Nguyen
M: 0428 727 244
E: paige.nguyen@nt.gov.au