NACCHO Media Release: Call for long term, coordinated, community controlled focus to protect the rights of Aboriginal children

The national peak Aboriginal health organisation today welcomed the release of the 2014 Children’s Rights Report and called for a coordinated and comprehensive focus to improve the health and rights of Aboriginal children.

Professor Ngiare Brown, National Research Manager and Senior Aboriginal Public Health Medical Officer at the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) said the report highlighted the persistent and significant issues of Aboriginal child and adolescent self-harm and suicide, and the high numbers of Aboriginal children in out-of-home care and in the juvenile justice system.

“On all these issues we see a significant disparity between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal children and the effect on families and communities is devastating,” Professor Brown said.

“We often refer to children as our future, but they are also our present and have the right to be heard, and to be able to participate in the discourse and decision making that affects them.

“NACCHO supports a child centric approach to all aspects of social policy and service delivery, underpinned by the our roles and responsibilities as defined by the CRC and other international and domestic human rights instruments.

“There is often piecemeal and incremental approaches to these complex but fundamentally important issues for our children and collectively we need to do better.

“There are clearly articulated, evidence-based solutions in the Aboriginal community controlled health sector and from our Elders, particularly for at risk and vulnerable children and young people in regional, rural and remote communities.

“There needs to be better support for these solutions and a broader commitment to invest in primary, secondary and tertiary prevention and intervention to ensure sustainable positive change.”

Professor Brown specifically called for a greater focus on:

  • ‘nation building’ initiatives for a society dedicated to growing happy, healthy, safe, smart children;
  • programs which help our children, adolescents and young people know that they are valued;
  • investment in prevention, and addressing modifiable risk factors at individual, family, community and population levels to reduce violence, abuse and neglect;
  • trauma informed care and education for children affected by violence, abuse and neglect;
  • immediate investment in acute care services for children, adolescents and young people affected by physical, emotional and mental health traumas;
  • cultural education and the acknowledgement of positive cultural practices to improve resilience and positive outcomes across the social determinants of health;
  • a specific focus on adolescence as a key transition period for cultural, social, physical and psychological development, to build the evidence base identifying what works to support the wellbeing of our young people.

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