SNAICC sees support for First Nations children, calls for Closing the Gap commitments
SNAICC – the national peak body for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, has issued a statement responding to last week’s Budget announcement, welcoming the Australian Government’s investment to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families and saying it “looks forward to further commitments for our children and families through the National Agreement on Closing the Gap.”
New measures were announced in the Budget which have a focus on children and families, including increased investment in early childhood education and care, keeping women and children safe, mental health and suicide prevention, and increased support for victims and survivors of child sexual abuse.
The promise of increased subsidies for families with two or more children in child care “will help to make child care more affordable and accessible for many families, however it leaves out families with only one child under five, and it doesn’t remove many other barriers that limit Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children’s access to early education and care,” SNAICC CEO Catherine Liddle said.
One of those barriers is the activity test required for people to access early childhood education and care. The test, in her opinion, continues to exclude children from early education when parents and carers do not meet minimum work or study requirements.
“The extra support for families on low- and middle-income will certainly help some families, but not all. It is integral that the Australian Government invests more in quality early education and care, scrap the ‘activity test’ and remove barriers to ensure access to 30 hours of free or heavily subsidised care for our children each week,” she added.
Ms Liddle also said that more work is needed to achieve the ambitious targets for our children in the National Agreement on Closing the Gap.
“Our children thrive when they have the opportunities to be proud in their identities and cultures and grow up safe and supported within their families and communities,” she continued.
“In line with the National Agreement, funding must go to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled early childhood and family support services that are best placed to provide quality and culturally safe services for our families.”
Ms Liddle called on the Government to make a broader investment in prevention and early intervention focused family services to address the rising rate of over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out-of-home care.
Specific funding was promised in the Budget for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled organisations after the Federal Cabinet considers the Commonwealth’s Jurisdictional Implementation Plan in the middle of 2021, something which SNAICC welcomed with caution.
“It is a wait and see situation on whether we, and other essential Aboriginal-led organisations, can be supported to deliver better services for our children and families,” Ms Liddle explained.
To review the statement on the SNAICC website, see here.