Protect Aboriginal kids’ rights to culture and community: Royal Commission recommendations
Friday 15 December 2017
As we’ve seen throughout the five-year Royal Commission process, child sexual abuse has left deep scars across all segments of the Australian community. Due to Aboriginal peoples’ history of being forced into institutional settings including out-of-home care and detention, our people have been among the worst affected.
“We are relieved to see several specific references to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples within the 189 recommendations handed down by the Royal Commission,” said Tim Ireland, AbSec CEO.
“It’s good to see recognition that our people have had unique experiences of abuse, and that Aboriginal survivors need culturally appropriate and sensitive services to help them move on with their lives.”
AbSec is particularly pleased to see Recommendation 12.20:
Each state and territory government, in consultation with appropriate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations and community representatives, should develop and implement plans to:
(a) fully implement the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Placement Principle
(b) improve community and child protection sector understanding of the intent and scope of the principle
(c) develop outcome measures that allow quantification and reporting on the extent of the full application of the principle, and evaluation of its impact on child safety and the reunification of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children with their families
(d) invest in community capacity building as a recognised part of kinship care, in addition to supporting individual carers, in recognition of the role of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in bringing up children.
“The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Placement Principle is incredibly important in safeguarding the rights of our children and young people, particularly their inalienable right to retain their culture and connections to their Aboriginal community,” Mr Ireland said.
The Child Placement Principle comprises five core elements, including the establishment of a hierarchy for child removal that places Aboriginal children with their kin and community, rather than in the care of a non-Aboriginal foster carer.
While states and territories including NSW have stated their commitment to the Principle, its application remains patchy at best. (Find out more about the Aboriginal Child Placement Principle here.)
AbSec welcomes other recommendations including the establishment of a national strategy and framework to prevent child sexual abuse, to be conducted by a newly established National Office for Child Safety; the reinforcement (including through legislation) of the Child Safe Standards identified by the Royal Commission; firming up measures to legally protect people who report suspected child abuse; standardising reportable conduct expectations on out-of-home care providers; achieving greater national consistency and information-sharing of carers’ registers, including making agencies more responsible for conducting safety checks on foster carers; and importantly, ensuring comprehensive redress schemes for survivors, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander survivors.
“We hope and expect that these recommendations will be taken seriously, and recognise that the process of implementing them will take dedicated time and resources,” Mr Ireland said.
“That is why AbSec is speaking out now to say: we’re here to help. We invite the NSW Government to join with us, as the state’s peak organisation for Aboriginal children and families, to look at how we can best implement these recommendations for our Aboriginal survivors.
“It’s absolutely crucial that we address these recommendations without any delay, so that we can protect today’s children and those of the next generations from having these inexcusable things done to them.
“It’s our duty to protect them, and it’s a duty we at AbSec take very seriously.”