Enhancing child safety and well-being in the northern territory: Bridging gaps in support services and strengthening community engagement

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Reynolds, Ashlee
Roche, Steven
Piatkowski, Timothy
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This article reports on a study that provides insights into the challenges faced by practitioners in the Northern Territory (NT) who support families in enhancing child safety and well-being, particularly for children at risk of or exposed to domestic or family violence. Despite increased funding for programs aimed at improving children's safety and well-being, reports and substantiations of child maltreatment in the NT continue to escalate. Interviews with twelve participants from various organizations involved in child protection services, family support services, and residential care shed light on the existing gaps in support services, including limited resources for families escaping domestic violence and inadequate assistance for children transitioning from out-of-home care. The findings emphasize the need for early intervention services targeted at families displaying risk factors for child maltreatment. Additionally, community consultation is crucial for the design and implementation of support programs that align with the unique needs of communities, including the necessity of maintaining connections to community, culture, and family to address concerns related to meeting basic needs. The study calls for a comprehensive approach that integrates community input, cultural safety, and tailored support programs to bridge these gaps and facilitate lasting positive changes. By addressing these challenges, there is a potential to mitigate child maltreatment and improve the well-being of children and families in the NT, contributing to the overall welfare of the community.

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Qualitative Social Work
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© The Author(s) 2023. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/) which permits non-commercial use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access page (https://us.sagepub.com/en-us/nam/open-access-at-sage).
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Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander social work and social justice
Social determinants of health
Social work
Social policy
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Roche, S; Reynolds, A; Piatkowski, T, Enhancing child safety and well-being in the northern territory: Bridging gaps in support services and strengthening community engagement, Qualitative Social Work, 2023