We must do more to protect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children

We must do more to protect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children

It is not acceptable that between 40 to 50 per cent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people still live in poverty across Australia, Social Justice Commissioner Mick Gooda said on the eve of national Aboriginal and Islander Children’s Day.

Commissioner Gooda said National Aboriginal and Islander Children’s Day — like NAIDOC Week and Reconciliation Week — had become an increasingly important annual statement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural pride, identity and achievement.

“Since the first children’s day and the adoption of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, we’ve seen some encouraging gains for our children, including in the areas of education and health, especially infant mortality rates,” he said.

“However it is not enough when it remains the case that our children are ten times more likely to be removed from their homes and families, or 26 times as likely to be in juvenile detention.”

Commissioner Gooda said that while it was evident that the will was there, backed up by considerable funding, governments had to do things better.

“Every child in Australia — including every Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander child — has the right to grow up with their basic needs of shelter, food, health, family, care, culture, education, participation and protection,” he said.

“Governments have to do things better and differently if we are to see marked improvements in the development, wellbeing and protection of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.

“Our people need to own the solutions and genuine partnerships need to be created — partnerships which support and enable a place for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures in every aspect of our children’s lives,” he said.

“National Aboriginal and Islander Children’s Day provides us with a moment to stop, to celebrate our children and to reflect on how we are doing in giving them the best start.”

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