Commissioner Mick Gooda from the NT child protection and detention royal commission says there is a significant amount of money coming into the NT.
"On one hand we're being told communities and organisations can't afford a worker but then on the other hand we've got a massive amount of money coming in here, and it's fairly easy to say for no visible significant improvement," Mr Gooda said on Monday.
Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet associate secretary indigenous affairs Andrew Tongue didn't agree there had been no improvement.
"If you look at the health data, many trends are going in the right direction.
It's not fast enough and it's not as strong as we would like, but in many areas the trend line is heading in the right direction," Mr Tongue told the Darwin hearing.
"In many of the things the Commonwealth is principally concerned with, primary health care for example, the data suggests that things are heading in the right direction."