News State Northern Territory NT Police investigating alleged sexual assault of child in remote community

NT Police investigating alleged sexual assault of child in remote community

NT police car
Northern Territory police are investigating. Photo: NT Police
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Police are investigating the alleged sexual assault of a child in a remote Northern Territory community, about 170 kilometres south-east of Tennant Creek.

NT Police said a youth was in custody and assisting police with their enquiries.

No one else is being sought in relation to the matter.

“I’m aware of an alleged sexual assault of a child in Ali Curung,” Chief Minister Michael Gunner said in a statement.

“This is an extremely disturbing incident. Every child, no matter where they live, deserves to be in a safe environment.”

Mr Gunner said additional staff from Territory Families had been deployed to the community, and the matter would be referred to the Children’s Commissioner for investigation.

It comes a little over a month since the alleged rape of a two-year-old girl in the outback town of Tennant Creek.

The alleged attack thrust the Territory’s child protection policies into the national spotlight, after it was revealed the child’s household had been subject to more than 20 notifications to child protection services.

An internal review found Territory Families lacked oversight and co-ordination into its handling of the case and the NT government has since agreed to review all cases where multiple notifications have been made to child protection services.

Close-knit community ‘devastated’

Stop The Violence sign in Tennant Creek
The alleged rape of a toddler in Tennant Creek in February sparked outrage within the community. Photo: ABC

Opposition Leader Gary Higgins said addressing disadvantage in the NT required “both long and short-term measures”.

“This is a complex set of problems that cannot be solved overnight,” he said.

“But what sort of society do we live in if we cannot commit to addressing this crisis with a sense of urgency.”

Police and the NT government came under fire over their handling of the Tennant Creek case, due to a delay in advising the public that the alleged incident had occurred.

The Mayor of the Barkly Regional Council, which takes in Ali Curung, said the close-knit community of around 500 people would be “devastated” by the “shocking news”.

“In Ali Curung, everybody knows everybody,” Steve Edgington said.

“When we look at the previous incident in Tennant Creek, it took around three days to [get out], so I give credit to the police and government that there has been early notification.”