• Protestors rally for justice on the first day of the Northern Territory Royal Commission into juvenile justice in Sydney on October 11, 2016. (AAP)Source: AAP
This has nothing to do with a second "Stolen Generation" and everything to do with child protection, says former NT magistrate.
8 May 2017 - 2:40 PM  UPDATED 8 May 2017 - 2:40 PM

A Family Court judge has told the Northern Territory juvenile justice royal commission the government is "far too hesitant" to remove Aboriginal children from abusive homes.

Former NT Local Court Chief Magistrate Justice Hilary Hannam says she wasn't worried that her approach could create a second stolen generation in indigenous communities.

"I'm not at all, and I don't think it's a valid comparison and it diminishes the experience of those people," she told the inquiry on Monday.

"My main concern is that the children remain in conditions that we would say are unacceptable for children in 21st century Australia."

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Justice Hannam said the under-resourced NT child protection department is too fearful to take action on at risk kids, and has a relativist approach to widespread neglect in communities.

"There are many fewer children removed in the Northern Territory, many fewer indigenous children as compared to the substantiated rates of maltreatment," she said.

"They're also on shorter orders. My experience is supported by the statistics."

Justice Hannam pointed to a 2012 example of a girl who was the subject of 10 notifications of mistreatment including sexual assault, yet the department didn't step in.

The four-year-old had come to school for the first time that year, months after the term had begun, with a large head injury.

"She was unclean and she smelt like faeces. Now, that wasn't seen as meeting the threshold for harm," she said.

A few weeks later the department ruled she was being neglected through a lack of food, clothing, shelter and medical attention but again no action was taken.

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Justice Hannam said a few months later the girl was indecently assaulted, but the department didn't pursue the allegation because "they felt there was insufficient evidence for the suspect to be charged".

Four months after that she was taken to the emergency department with a broken arm, and doctors were suspicious about the cause of the fracture and how old it was.

"The child's carer, I can't remember whether it was the mother or grandmother... basically abandoned the child at the hospital. And that still didn't lead to an investigation," Justice Hannam said.