SNAICC calls for “Activity test” exemption in 8th National Conference communiqué

by Jason Roberts

September 05

SNAICC – The National Voice for our Children has wrapped up its 8th National Conference with the release of a communiqué that includes a 4 point call for action plan, with one of the points being an exemption to the child care subsidy “activity test” to be applied to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families. 

 

In addition, the statement made a commitment to continue to support the Coalition of Peaks on the Closing the Gap Refresh and to pursue the three reform priorities for action to improve outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and their children in the areas of child protection and the early years.  

 

The conference this year was held over three days and showcased knowledge, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders from across Australia; gave delegates the opportunity to hear from leading national and international child rights and development experts discussing a range of topics; and, provided a full program of sessions and workshops for attendees.

 

Over 1,200 delegates attended the event. 

 

In order to ensure that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children have every opportunity to grow up safe and cared for in their family, community, and culture SNAICC have made the following key calls for action:

 

The establishment of a National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Commissioner

 

We have been inspired by the brilliance and leadership of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, June Oscar AO and South Australian Commissioner for Aboriginal Children and Young People, April Lawrie

 

Commissioner Oscar’s commitment to focusing on early intervention and wellbeing was highlighted yesterday. She said, “Just 17% of funding for child protection went to child and family support and prevention services while 83% has been invested in child protection services. This needs to change.”

 

A National Commissioner for our children must be independent, properly resourced, and have strong powers to investigate the systems that are failing our children.

 

A comprehensive National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Strategy that includes generational targets to eliminate the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out-of-home care

 

The National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children ends next year and has failed to improve outcomes for our children. The soaring rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out-of-home care are a national crisis. We must start work now so that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can co-design with governments a dedicated strategy that focuses on prevention and targets the drivers of child protection intervention.

 

We heard strong calls from Victoria Tauli-Corpuz’s, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, that Australia must adhere to international standards. 

 

The strategy must give effect to the internationally recognised human rights of our children. It must be based on our knowledge of what will work to change outcomes and seek to achieve the four building blocks of the Family Matters Campaign.

 

A dedicated funding program for integrated Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander early years services, and an exemption to the child care ‘Activity Test’ for our families

 

We need a long term program to invest in integrated community-controlled early education, maternal and child health and family support services, with clear targets to increase coverage in areas of high Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population, and high levels of disadvantage.

 

There should be an exemption to the Activity Test in the New Child Care Package, because that test limits participation for children in early education and undermines their fundamental rights. 

 

This will seriously impact the futures of our children.

 

An end to legal orders for permanent care and adoption for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, replaced by a focus on supporting the permanence of their identity in connection with their kin and culture

 

We need to stop focusing on permanent legal orders, and invest in programs that support reunification and cultural connection for children in care. Our children need continuity and to know where they are from, and their place in relation to family, mob, community, land and culture. 

 

For more information on this years conference communiqué please click here.  

 

PRINT