SNAICC calls for national commissioner for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children

SNAICC calls for national commissioner for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children

by Freya Lucas

October 24, 2019

More than 80 organisations and commissioners have united to call for a national commissioner for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in young people in Australia. 

 

Led by SNAICC, the national peak body for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and the Family Matters campaign, the call has been made to coincide with National Children’s Week.

 

SNAICC Chair Muriel Bamblett said the organisations have banded together calling for change at national level because “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people often fall through the cracks of our federal system.”

 

Ms Bamblett outlined her hope that a dedicated national commissioner would provide oversight and accountability for services to improve and protect the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people, play a vital role providing a dedicated voice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people at the national level, and support strategies for more effective collaboration and coordination both between and within governments.

 

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people are 10.2 times more likely to be in out-of-home care than other children and 17 times more likely to be in juvenile detention. They are 2.6 times more likely to be developmentally vulnerable than other children when they start school.

 

Past attempts at improving outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children have failed because no one has been held accountable,” said SNAICC CEO and Family Matters Co-Chair Richard Weston. “A dedicated commissioner would help ensure that government commitments are being implemented and that our children’s rights are being respected.”

 

Mr Weston said it was imperative that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are kept connected to family, culture and community. 

 

“With an overarching strategy and commissioner, we can ensure there are national standards and practice across all jurisdictions to improve outcomes for our children,” he added.

 

The position paper calls for a national commissioner role that must:

  • be established by legislation to ensure independence and autonomy from government

 

  • be filled by an identified Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander person with appropriate qualifications, knowledge and experience and appointed through a transparent process

 

  • be mandated with a clear scope and purpose for the role

 

  • be granted appropriate functions and powers to promote systemic change and accountability, including powers of inquiry and investigation

 

  • be adequately resourced to perform its role effectively.

 

The position paper may be accessed here, and individuals or services wishing to endorse the call may do so here

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