Landmark Inquiry Unveils Crisis in Northern Territory’s Domestic Violence System, Australia


Updated: 1:04 PM, Fri November 10, 2023

Landmark Inquiry Highlights Crisis in Northern Territory’s Domestic Violence System

A recent landmark inquiry led by Northern Territory Coroner Elisabeth Armitage has unveiled a crisis in the domestic, family, and sexual violence (DFSV) system in the Northern Territory (NT). The inquiry, which lasted eight weeks and spanned the past six months, delved into the domestic violence-related killings of individuals including Kumanjayi Haywood, Ngeygo Ragurrk, Miss Yunupiŋu, and Kumarn Rubuntja. Through her investigation, Judge Armitage uncovered an underfunded and overburdened system operating in crisis mode.

The inquiry shed light on the alarming rates of DFSV in the Northern Territory. It is reported that the NT has the highest rates of DFSV in the country, with domestic violence-related homicides reaching seven times the national average. The NT Police has witnessed a staggering 117 percent increase in DFSV calls over the past decade, and it is projected to rise even further by 73 percent in the next 10 years.

Tragically, since 2000, the coroner’s office has recorded the deaths of 81 women at the hands of their partners, with 76 of those women being Indigenous. This harrowing statistic underscores the urgent need for action to address domestic violence in the Northern Territory.

The inquiry began in June in Alice Springs with an inquest into the death of Kumanjayi Haywood, who was killed by her partner in a fatal fire. Prior to her death, Haywood sent distressing text messages to a loved one, expressing fear for her life. Her tragic story epitomizes the culmination of years of abuse suffered by many victims.

Throughout the inquiry, Judge Armitage adopted a therapeutic approach, taking time to meet with the families of the victims and providing a safe space for vulnerable witnesses to share their experiences. This compassionate approach allowed for personal and difficult stories to be heard.

The families of the victims have expressed gratitude for the inquiry and emphasized the importance of coming together to speak out against domestic violence. Their hope is that the Northern Territory and Commonwealth governments will take swift action to address this crisis. Women’s Safety Services of Central Australia CEO Larissa Ellis stressed the urgent need for collaboration between the two governments and an end to the fighting, as women are dying on the ground.

In a closing statement, Dr. Dwyer, who represented the family of one of the victims, called on the Northern Territory government to commit to the $180 million funding bid developed by experts. The NT government has already allocated $20 million in its 2023-2024 budget to this request. Dr. Dwyer also urged both the territory and Commonwealth governments to invest in frontline services and allocate additional funding for a co-response pilot program in Alice Springs.

The findings and recommendations of the inquiry are expected to be presented by the coroner in March of next year. This long-awaited report is anticipated to provide crucial insights and potentially pave the way for significant improvements in the Northern Territory’s domestic violence system.

In conclusion, the landmark inquiry conducted by Judge Elisabeth Armitage has exposed a crisis in the Northern Territory’s domestic violence system. The inquiry has highlighted the urgent need for increased funding, resources, and collaboration between governments to address the alarming rates of DFSV. The voices of victims and their families must be heard, and decisive action must be taken to ensure the safety and well-being of all individuals affected by domestic violence in the Northern Territory.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) Related to the Above News

What is the current state of the domestic violence system in the Northern Territory?

The recent landmark inquiry has revealed that the domestic violence system in the Northern Territory is in a deep crisis. It is underfunded and overburdened, resulting in grave consequences for vulnerable individuals.

How does the Northern Territory compare to the rest of the country in terms of domestic violence rates?

The Northern Territory has the highest rates of domestic, family, and sexual violence (DFSV) in the country. Domestic violence-related homicides in the region are seven times higher than the national average.

What were the major findings of the landmark inquiry?

The inquiry examined the domestic violence-related killings of four individuals and found that the system was woefully underfunded and overburdened. It also revealed alarming statistics, including a significant increase in DFSV calls and a high number of Indigenous women losing their lives to domestic violence.

How did Judge Armitage approach the proceedings?

Judge Armitage took a therapeutic approach during the proceedings, showing compassion to the families of the victims and ensuring support for vulnerable witnesses. This approach highlighted the need for significant changes within the system.

What funding is being proposed to address the crisis?

Dr. Dwyer, who provided a closing statement for the inquiry, called on the Northern Territory government to commit to a recommended $180 million funding bid. The government has made a $20 million commitment in the 2023-2024 budget.

What is the response from frontline service providers?

Frontline service providers are hopeful that the inquiry will bring about positive change. They emphasize the need for collaboration between governments, an end to fighting, and urgent action to address the domestic violence crisis.

When will the coroner release her findings and recommendations?

The coroner will receive final submissions in March next year, and her findings and recommendations are expected to be released afterward.

Please note that the FAQs provided on this page are based on the news article published. While we strive to provide accurate and up-to-date information, it is always recommended to consult relevant authorities or professionals before making any decisions or taking action based on the FAQs or the news article.

Noah Williams
Noah Williams
Noah Williams, the Australia correspondent and news manager at The Reportify. Trust his accurate and insightful coverage of breaking news, interviews, and analysis. Gain a deeper understanding of Australia's politics, culture, and social issues through his captivating writing. Count on Noah for reliable and impactful news exclusively at The Reportify. He can be reached at for any inquiries or further information.

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