Homelessness rates 15 times higher than the national average could be behind the disproportionate number of Aboriginal children being placed in child protection and youth detention centres in the Northern Territory.

That’s the finding of a joint submission to the Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the NT.

The joint submission by the Aboriginal Peak Organisations Northern Territory, Danila Dilba Health Service and Human Rights Law Centre states overcrowding, homelessness and inadequate housing were relevant to the number of children being locked up.

In the NT, 731 people in every 10,000 were homeless or lived in overcrowded conditions compared to the national average of 49.

“The disproportionate burden of homelessness and overcrowding borne by Aboriginal people … mirrors the disproportionately high rates at which Aboriginal children enter the child protection and youth detention systems in the Northern Territory,” the submission states.

“Homelessness, overcrowding and poor housing conditions are relevant both to the rate at which children enter the child protection system and their prospects for successful family reunification.”

Meanwhile, the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance NT said the care and protection of children and youth justice systems should be reformed with the emphasis on rehabilitation rather than punishment.