NAPCAN Statement: New NT laws recognise that prevention is better than cure

20 March 2020

Media release: NAPCAN – National Association for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect 

New laws recognise that prevention is better than cure

The National Association for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect – NAPCAN – says that we can expect to see continued improvements for children in the Northern Territory as new laws demand earlier support for families and young people.

NAPCAN NT Manager, Meron Looney, says, “Raising children is like navigating a boat; many families will experience bad weather from time to time. The job of governments and the community is to provide the lighthouses and safe harbours that families need – as early as possible – so that they can continue on the important journey of raising children.”

“The current coronavirus pandemic will likely put additional pressure on communities and families, so early coordinated support for families will be more important than ever.”

NAPCAN commends the NT Government on passing the Care and Protection of Children Amendment Act 2019, and the Youth Justice and Related Legislation Amendment Act 2019 which come into effect this month.

“Anyone who has seen the effects of child abuse and neglect – and child removal – will know that prevention is much better than cure.”

“These laws will help the NT to continue on a path that is focused on helping families, rather than waiting until there is a crisis.

“And if there is a crisis – and children need to be removed – these laws will help to ensure that the family is closely involved and the child’s life is kept as stable as possible.”

“Although we still have a long way to go, we are starting to see some positive trends in the Northern Territory with more families seeking and receiving help early, reductions in the number of children being placed in out-of-home-care or detention, and more Aboriginal children staying with Aboriginal carers.”

These new laws help to enshrine the importance of prevention into day-to-day operations, including supporting the government to:

  • work with families early on so they can get the right help at the right time, before problems escalate

  • communicate with families in a language and manner they understand

  • develop Care Plans for children who have been removed that identify how they will maintain connection to family, culture, tradition, language and country

  • limit the time children and young people spend in police custody

  • increase access to youth diversion programs and legal assistance for young people

  • protect the privacy of young people in court proceedings.

The Northern Territory Government has been working with stakeholders and staff across agencies to implement the reforms and make sure staff are informed, trained and supported to implement the amendments.

For further questions or information about the implementation of the new amendments visit

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