Inquiry hears of state care, crime link

Lucy Hughes Jones

Out of home care living arrangements designed to protect children from harm instead can create an environment for offending, the Northern Territory child protection royal commission has heard.

Legal experts told the inquiry there's high crossover between the child welfare and juvenile detention systems, with kids in out of home care progressing down a path of crime at vastly disproportionate rates.

NSW Legal Aid Commission's Katrina Wong said youngsters in state care are more likely to be exposed to domestic violence, more likely to be long term offenders from a younger age, and more likely to be abused or abuse others while locked up.

She said kids in care are also more likely to be hospitalised and die younger and have poor education outcomes.

"Every measure of disadvantage and entanglement with the justice system, it's these kids," Ms Wong said.

Earlier the inquiry heard the story of an indigenous couple from a remote community, who for the past decade have been foster carers for five children who were taken from a family plagued by alcoholism and family violence.

The witnesses, known as CR and CZ, said kids are left traumatised after being "ripped away" from their communities without consultation and raised with no connection to their traditional identity.

"A lot of kids will go into white fella families... and that whole culture is lost," CR said.

"Those songlines and storylines, if they're not carried on then they die out," CZ said.

The couple suggested the establishment of a specialist group of respected elders to act as a go-between for families and the welfare system to encourage engagement and agency.

The inquiry will resume hearings in Darwin from June 19.