SNAICC welcomes new National Agreement on Closing the Gap
SNAICC – National Voice for our Children has welcomed yesterday’s new National Agreement on Closing the Gap to strengthen outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families, with SNAICC Chair Muriel Bamblett saying the new Agreement “takes a positive step towards improving outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families.”
Although, Ms Bamblett continued, achieving the targets outlined in the agreement “will require greater efforts and investment in early intervention and prevention, and in reunification of our children with their families, if we are to keep our children connected to family, culture and kin.”
SNAICC worked with more than 50 other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled peak bodies to negotiate a comprehensive National Agreement on Closing the Gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.
The resulting agreement, a spokesperson said, is “a commitment from all governments to fundamentally change the way they work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and organisations.”
A number of priority reforms in the agreement focus on partnerships with First Nations peoples, building the capacity of community controlled services, and improving data to ensure that it is truly representative of the lives and wellbeing of children.
The role of early learning, education and care is highlighted in the Agreement, with Ms Bamblett saying “we know that supporting our children from an early age will improve their future outcomes. Achieving this target will require a greater investment in early childhood development and learning supports for children aged 0-5.”
The target of achieving 95 per cent enrolment of four-year-olds in preschool carried over from the previous agreement, and while SNAICC acknowledged the importance of striving for that goal, a spokesperson for the group said it was “essential to focus on improving outcomes for children aged birth to three years of age if we are to Close the Gap in AEDC outcomes.”
The agreement includes a Priority Reform to build Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled services, with early childhood services one of the first four sectors to be strengthened.
“If governments invest in our Aboriginal community-controlled early childhood education services to support our children and families we can ensure our children have access to vital early years education so that they have the opportunity to thrive” Ms Bamblett said.
As well as working with peak bodies, more than 4000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people participated in engagements with SNAICC on what should be included in the new National Agreement, which further guided SNAICC and the other peak bodies in their negotiations.
Governments have made a substantial commitment in the Agreement to reduce the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out-of-home care by 45 per cent by 2031, which aligns strongly with calls from SNAICC and the Family Matters campaign to eliminate the over-representation First Nations children in out-of-home care by 2040.
“There is significant work to do but we are steadfast in our commitment to working with community-controlled organisations and governments through the Closing the Gap Agreement and the new National Early Childhood Strategy that the Prime Minister announced in February” she added.
To access the full National Agreement on Closing the Gap, see here.