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The National Association for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect warns that the Royal Commission into Youth Detention in the Northern Territory must this time be followed by some real action if it is to have any value.

NAPCAN, one of Australia’s foremost bodies working in child abuse prevention, says the Territory has seen a number of major reviews and inquiries into these issues that have resulted in important recommendations but little direct action that focuses on prevention.

In particular, they want to see prevention-focused outcomes identified in previous reports and inquiries into the Child Protection and Juvenile Justice Systems in the Northern Territory implemented as a matter of urgency.

NAPCAN President Teresa Scott says those recommendations, fully implemented, would go a long way to preventing children and young people having to come into contact with the Child Protection and Juvenile Justice Systems in the first place.

“If we are really going to shift the way that children and young people come into contact with the Child Protection and Juvenile Justice systems, the answer has to be in the way that we prevent it happening in the first place,” Ms Scott says.

The association’s Northern Territory Manager, Lesley Taylor, says there is an urgent need for a higher skill levels and ongoing training in respectful relationships for all staff working with traumatised children.

“We need staff to receive the same kind of training in violence prevention that we give young people in detention,” she says. “And we desperately need a change in the organisational culture of youth detention from power and control of young people to one of rehabilitation, healing and therapeutic intervention.”

Teresa Scott says Australia is fooling itself if it thinks a public inquiry is all that is required.

“For decades now, organisations like NAPCAN have been stressing the need for more resources and better leadership around prevention and a financial commitment to address the abuse and neglect of children so that they don’t end up in detention in the first place.”

“We have to realise that these youngsters in detention are still children,” she says. “The law says that as children they have the potential to grow into good adults, so we have to show them how good adults behave. Abuse is never a way of doing that.”


Lesley Taylor and Teresa Scott are available for interviews.

Media contact:

Olya Booyar:  0408 347 409


The National Association for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect, (NAPCAN) was founded in 1987. NAPCAN’s mission is to support and encourage changes in individual and community behaviour to stop child abuse and neglect before it starts. NAPCAN contributes to the safety and wellbeing of Australia’s children by raising public awareness of child abuse & neglect and by developing effective prevention strategies and programs in partnership with communities.

NAPCAN has been active in the NT  since March 2000. It operates as an expert advisory peak to government and non-government sector around early intervention and prevention of all forms of child abuse and neglect.

Teresa Scott Bio

Teresa is the President of the NAPCAN Board.  She is a social worker with 30 years experience mainly focussing on child protection and child abuse prevention. Teresa has worked directly with children, families and communities as well as in training, programme and policy development and is currently employed as a part-time lecturer at Griffith University at the School of Human Services and Social Work.

Lesley Taylor Bio

Lesley Taylor is NT Manager for NAPCAN.  She founded the NT Branch in March 2000 and currently manages a small but dynamic team of Community Educators and Prevention Coordinators. Lesley has delivered workshops promoting the safety and wellbeing of children to thousands of people across the Territory in urban, rural and remote Aboriginal Communities. During her more than 25 years of working in child protection and promotion of prevention initiatives, Lesley has developed a keen sense of how strong Communities create safe environments for children. In 1999 Lesley was awarded the inaugural National Child Abuse Prevention (Rural and Remote) Award by the National Council for the Prevention of Child Abuse.

Lesley’s TedX talk ‘What does being nice have to do with Child Abuse Prevention?’ Can be found here.