Support for families with an at-risk child or young person

If you need help to address the anti-social behaviour of a child or young person in your care, you can enter into a family responsibility agreement.

Under the Youth Justice Act 2005, the agreement is only used when Territory Families, Housing and Communities (TFHC) believes:

  • it will resolve the child's or young person's problematic behaviours
  • your behaviours, actions or inactions are causing or contributing to the child's or young person’s problem behaviours.

The Youth Justice Court may also direct TFHC to enter into the agreement where there is a need for stronger family support.

This may be in addition to other orders made against the child or young person such as young person protection case plans, youth justice support plans and youth justice conferencing agreements.

You can enter into the agreement if you’re a parent, carer or responsible adult.

For the purposes of the agreement, a responsible adult is a person who has parental responsibility for the child or young person. This may be in line with:

  • contemporary social practice
  • Aboriginal customary law and Aboriginal tradition.

Where the court has directed TFHC to develop the agreement with you and your family, the court will be advised of:

  • the efforts made to engage you into the agreement
  • your commitment to take part
  • your capacity to follow the agreement.

When the agreement is entered into, TFHC will work with you and the child or young person. They may include other services that may help too.

Together, you will set goals and make any necessary changes to help change the child's or young person’s behaviour.

This may include one or more of the following:

  • supporting the child or young person to:
    • attend school
    • build healthy and safe relationships
    • engage in programs that address their needs
    • attend medical and other appointments
    • take part in community or cultural activities
    • separate from peers who may be offending or involved in other anti-social behaviour
    • follow any court orders
  • being responsible for the care and supervision of the child or young person by making sure they’re home at night
  • engaging in:
    • actions that may result in positive behavioural change
    • community support groups to learn from shared experiences
    • programs to build parenting skills such as counselling, alcohol and other drug services or mental health services.

To achieve these goals, you can explain your concerns for the child or young person and plan:

  • what needs to happen to address these concerns
  • who will take what actions and by when.

Anyone who helped create the agreement will be asked to sign it and will also receive a copy of it.

A TFHC employee will assist with this.

If you can’t or prefer not to sign the agreement, your spoken agreement will be recorded.

The agreement is also regularly reviewed by everyone involved. This holds everyone accountable, makes sure goals are being met and any goals and actions are adjusted if needed.

The agreement can last up to 12 months, depending on your needs and the needs of the child or young person.

It cannot be in effect after their 18th birthday.

The court may replace some or all of the conditions in the agreement if:

  • the child or young person is charged with an offence and
  • the court makes an order in relation to those charges.

To meet these court order requirements, the agreement may be changed.

After the agreement ends, all efforts will be made to ensure referrals to appropriate services have been completed if:

  • more support is needed
  • the child or young person continues to have anti-social behaviours.

If the child or young person is between 10 to 17 years old, they can be referred to voluntary support with TFHC.

A family responsibility order may also be considered.

Entry into the agreement is voluntary so you won’t get a penalty if you don’t follow its conditions.

A mandatory report under the Care and Protection of Children Act 2007 can be made for non-compliance with a written agreement where your behaviour is a factor in the child's or young person’s offending.

The court will then decide what further action should be taken for the child or young person.

They may consider a family responsibility order.

You can withdraw from the agreement at any time.

You must notify TFHC by talking to the caseworker or in writing to:

Territory Families, Housing and Communities
Youth Justice
PO Box 37037
Winnellie NT 0821

TFHC will then:

  • talk to you about the decision to make sure you understand what will happen next
  • offer support to continue the agreement and keep it on track.

If you still want to withdraw from the agreement, you must sign a statement saying you're no longer willing or able to follow the agreement.

Last updated: 09 August 2022

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