“ The time to act is now. This is an historic opportunity for the Federal Government to make a difference for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children,”
Antoinette Braybrook, Co-Chair of Change the Record. See Part 1 below
Download the National Plan :
” Projected out-of-home care population growth suggests the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in care will more than triple by 2036.”
The Family Matters Report report – due to be launched at Parliament House on 29 November – reveals a shocking trend in the removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, who are now nearly 10 times as likely to be removed from their family as non-Indigenous children – a disparity which continues to grow. See Part 3 Below
Part 1 Change the Record National Plan
This week the Change the Record Coalition launched an eight-point plan –Free to be Kids – National Plan of Action – to transform the youth justice system and prevent abuse of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children in prisons.
“The Royal Commission into Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory demonstrated shocking abuse of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in prisons, and we know that similar abuses are happening right around the country,” said Cheryl Axleby, Co-Chair of Change the Record.
7.00 am Monday morning Canberra press conference with the Change the Record team in the rain
Change the Record has said the Federal Government must:
- Support children, families and communities to stay strong and together
- Raise the age of criminal responsibility to 14
- Get children who are not sentenced out of prison
- Adequately fund Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled legal and other support services
- End abusive practices in prisons
- Set targets to end the overrepresentation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in prison
- Improve collection and use of data
- Work through COAG to reform State and Territory laws that breach children’s rights
Download Free to be Kids – National Plan of Action [PDF]
Part 2 Children suffer every day that PM Turnbull delays on Federal commitment to lead youth justice change says Amnesty International
Amnesty International, as part of the Indigenous-led Change The Record coalition, released a National Plan of Action for Prime Minister Turnbull to end the abuse and overrepresentation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in Australian prisons.
The eight-point plan includes strategies for children and families to be supported to stay together; raising the age of criminal responsibility to 14; setting national justice targets; and investing in Indigenous-led prevention and support programs.
The National Plan of Action release date marks 10 days since the Turnbull Government pledged national commitment on youth justice.
The plan was launched in response to the Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory report released on 17 November.
“The most shocking thing about the Royal Commission findings are that the abuses are happening in every state and territory,” said Claire Mallinson, National Director, Amnesty International Australia.
“Every day the Prime Minister delays taking action, children are self-harming, or being held in solitary confinement. They are being denied basic needs, being restrained or handled inappropriately, being verbally or physically abused in Australian child prisons.”
“What’s more, Indigenous children are 25 times more likely to be locked up than non-Indigenous children.”
Barely a week after the Royal Commission report, the NT Government has announced it will send the Territory Response Group, from the counter-terrorism taskforce, into Darwin and Alice Springs. The police will be equipped with military-grade assault weapons to patrol children at night over December.
“The decision flies in the face of the NT Royal Commission report, which recommended a shift away from tough, brutal responses to a focus on prevention, diversion and supporting families. It shows, yet again, that we need Federal leadership to set a standard across the states and territories,” said Claire Mallinson.
Amnesty International’s recent ReachTEL poll found two out of three Australians believe the Turnbull Government should lead national action to end the injustice of too many Indigenous kids in prison.
“We welcome the Turnbull Government’s acknowledgement that the Royal Commission findings have national implications, and the Government’s commitment to lead national change of the youth justice system,” said Claire Mallinson.
A number of recommendations in the Royal Commission report would make a significant difference if implemented nationally. These include those about diversion; supporting families; raising the minimum age of criminal responsibility; bail support services and accommodation; and ending abusive practices in prison, like banning spithoods, restraint chairs and teargas.
Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion said the Government would develop a Royal Commission response, “not only here in the Northern Territory, but across every jurisdiction in Australia.
Every other jurisdiction will be looking to the Northern Territory and the Commonwealth for leadership about change throughout our jurisdictions, and I know that [Chief Minister Michael Gunner] and I are committed to working together to provide that leadership.”
“With today’s plan, Prime Minister Turnbull can turn those words into solid policies,” said Claire Mallinson.
“He must commit to work in partnership with Indigenous communities to nationally reform the youth injustice system. This is the only way to achieve real progress, not only for kids suffering in prison now, but for the next generation of Indigenous children
Part 3: WITHOUT URGENT ACTION THE NUMBER OF ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER CHILDREN REMOVED FROM FAMILY WILL TRIPLE IN NEXT 20 YEARS
The rate at which Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are removed from their families is an escalating national crisis.
Without immediate action from all levels of government further generations of children will be lost to their families, cultures and communities, according to a new report from the Family Matters campaign.
The report – due to be launched at Parliament House on 29 November – reveals a shocking trend in the removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, who are now nearly 10 times as likely to be removed from their family as non-Indigenous children – a disparity which continues to grow.
“If we continue on this path, carved out by the flawed approaches of consecutive governments, the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out-of-home care will more than triple in the next 20 years,” Family Matters Co-Chair Natalie Lewis said.
“Twenty years ago, the Bringing them Home report brought public and political awareness to the destructive impact of the Stolen Generations on communities, families and children – a historical pain that has caused trauma with lasting impacts. We cannot allow the history of trauma to devastate yet another generation of our children.
“In the 20 years since Bringing them Home, and nearly 10 years since the national apology, the numbers of Aboriginal children in out-of-home care have continued to escalate.”
The Family Matters Report shows that only 17 per cent of the child protection budget is spent on services aimed at preventing issues for families before they develop, while the bulk of spending is invested in reacting to problems when they arise.
“The Family Matters Report clearly shows we have a system that invests in failure and not success,” Ms Lewis said.
“Only one in every five dollars spent on child protection is invested in family supports.
Supportive and preventative services – designed to build the capacity of families to care for children and allow children to thrive – are crucial to addressing the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out-of-home care.”
The Family Matters Report provides a comprehensive analysis of child protections systems in every state and territory, judged against a series of building blocks to ensuring child safety and wellbeing.
“The disproportionate representation of our children, and the failure to adequately provide for their wellbeing and ensure fulfilment of their rights, are characteristics common to all jurisdictions,” Ms Lewis said.
“Those of us working for our communities are striving to address these fundamental system failures, but what we really need is governments to resource our vision for a better future for our children.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have been forthcoming with solutions to these issues for many, many years. We need to work together now to prevent another generation of children growing up separated from their family, culture and connection to country.”
Data from the Family Matters Report 2017 shows:
• Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are 9.8 times more likely to be living in out-of-home care than non-Indigenous children.
• Projected out-of-home care population growth suggests the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in care will more than triple by 2036.
• From 2010 to 2018, the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in child death statistics has grown from a rate ratio of 1.84 to 2.23.
• Only 67 per cent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in Australia are placed with family, kin, or other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander carers.
• Only 2 per cent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children commenced an intensive family support service in 2015-16, a rate well below their rate of contact with child protection services.
• Only 17 per cent of overall child protection funding is invested in support services for children and their families.
• Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are significantly less likely to access antenatal care during the first trimester of pregnancy.