• Child protection and reducing family advice is a key area of need in Indigenous communities. (AAP Image/Dan Peled)Source: AAP Image/Dan Peled
Josephine Crawshaw, the former CEO of an Aboriginal child protection peak body, has suggested the federal government needs to have greater involvement in protecting NT Aboriginal children.
By
Megan Neil

22 Jun 2017 - 12:02 PM  UPDATED 22 Jun 2017 - 12:02 PM

The former Strong Aboriginal Families, Together CEO has told the Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory hearing in Darwin, the services are being undermined by NT governments coming in with no experience or understanding of the impact of changes they make.

"Very quick decisions are made, they don't understand the impact that it's even going to cost them," she told the NT royal commission.

"I think it's at such a crisis point that we need a higher level of protection and legislation, that actually probably would be better coming from the federal government."

Ms Crawshaw was CEO in 2012 when the incoming Country Liberal Party cut funding to the peak body and planned Aboriginal child care agencies in Darwin and Alice Springs.

She said Aboriginal children were paying the ultimate price for changes by new NT governments.

"They're already being failed by most adults in their lives and the government's the last one that puts the final nail in the coffin for them."

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Wednesday marked the 10th anniversary of the federal government's controversial intervention in remote NT Aboriginal communities, which Ms Crawshaw described as "martial law".

Dr Peggy Dwyer, counsel for the North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency, said the inquiry has been told the number of Aboriginal children in out-of-home care had doubled from 452 in 2007 to 1067 in 2015.

"Isn't the message from those statistics that unless there is [an] investment in early intervention and support for Aboriginal families to keep their children, the system is doomed to continue to fail?"

Former NT Department of Children and Families CEO Clare Gardiner-Barnes responded: "Based on those figures, I think you are right."

AAP

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