Disturbing Footage out of the Northern Territory Sparks Calls to Protect Kids’ Rights

Last week The Australian newspaper released distressing footage and images of a child being forcibly removed from a home in the Northern Territory by police officers. It is believed the child was in the care of the NT’s Territory Families Department and The Australian has reported that the boy was taken from people who were previously his foster parents, but were no longer viewed as such under NT’s child protection laws. Acting NT Children’s Commissioner Nicole Hucks confirmed she has received formal complaints regarding the incident, and was conducting “preliminary inquiries” into what had happened.

“We were shocked by the footage of an 11 year old boy being dragged screaming from a home he wanted to be at into a paddy wagon cage. We often hear from children and young people involved in the child protection systems about how their rights are not upheld and this is an extremely distressing example.” says CREATE Foundation’s CEO, Jacqui Reed.

Ms Reed continued, “We feel for the child and family involved. At a system’s level there should have been alternative options available to avoid this outcome for the child. Police and child protection agencies must work with children in a way that does not involve force or cause significant distress. Child protection agencies need to listen to children and young people about what they want, and ensure children and young people are actively involved in the decisions that affect them, including around contact with family and friends and their housing. It seems more work was needed in lead up to this situation to prevent the need for police intervention at all”.

All children in the child protection and out-of-home care systems have rights and they must be listened to. The NT Government’s Charter of Rights for children and young people in care includes the right to feel safe and protected; to be treated fairly; to be respected; and to see family and friends and stay connected to culture. We urge the NT Government to reflect carefully and seriously on this incident to ensure that children’s rights are upheld.

CREATE Foundation is the national consumer body representing the voices of children and young people with an out-of-home care experience. Our vision is that all children and young people with a care experience reach their full potential. At CREATE, we listen to what children and young people with a lived experience of the care system tell us, and advocate with and for them to achieve systemic change.

For further comment from CREATE’s Chief Executive, Ms Jacqui Reed, and/or a young person with care experience contact Erin Laing, Media Coordinator, via 0401 880 522 or erin.laing@create.org.au