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.

NACCHO Aboriginal youth news:Young people aged 10–14 in youth justice system at high risk of re-offending




Of concern is that Indigenous over-representation in youth justice is greatest at younger ages,

Indigenous young people aged 10–14 were about 6 to 10 times as likely as non-Indigenous young people of the same age to be proceeded against by police during 2010–11, compared with 3 to 5 times as likely among those aged 15–17.

Only a small proportion of young people involved in the Australian youth justice system are aged 10–14 (the youngest group involved in the system), however these young people are at risk of becoming chronic, long-term offenders, according to a report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

For details of the AIHW report

The report, Young people aged 10–14 in the youth justice system, examines the characteristics of this age group, including patterns of involvement with the youth justice system.

It shows that 1,940 young people aged 10–14 experienced youth justice supervision at some time during 2011–12 (excluding Western Australia and the Northern Territory, for which comparable data was not provided).

This equates to 17% of young people under supervision during the year, or 16 per 10,000 young people across the Australian population in that age group.

‘Of concern is that Indigenous over-representation in youth justice is greatest at younger ages,’ said AIHW spokesperson Tim Beard.

Indigenous young people aged 10–14 were about 6 to 10 times as likely as non-Indigenous young people of the same age to be proceeded against by police during 2010–11, compared with 3 to 5 times as likely among those aged 15–17.

‘There is some evidence that people who enter the youth justice system at younger ages are more likely to return to supervision in the future, compared with those who enter at an older age.’

Longitudinal data show that 85% of young people in a cohort born in 1993–94 who were supervised at age 10–14 returned to, or continued under, supervision when they were 15­–17.

This was particularly the case for the most serious type of supervision—detention.

‘Young people aged 10–14 from the 1993-94 birth cohort who return to supervision at older ages also tend to have more serious involvement in the system and are supervised for longer,’ Mr Beard said.

The AIHW is a major national agency set up by the Australian Government to provide reliable, regular and relevant information and statistics on Australia’s health and welfare.

Canberra, 25 July 2013

Further information: Tim Beard, AIHW, tel. (02) 6244 1270 or 0418 271 395

For media copies of the report: 02 6249 5048/02 6249 5033 or email

NACCHO Health Technology NEWS: National online youth counselling service goes mobile


Image above Headspace

Young people can now use their smartphones and tablet devices to access Australia’s only youth-specific online mental health service staffed exclusively by qualified clinicians.

The new mobile-enabled eheadspace website will make it even easier for teenagers and young adults to get support when and where they need it for issues such as bullying, depression, anxiety and relationship breakups.

Launching the new website on the Gold Coast,headspace CEO Chris Tanti said the changes recognised that an increasing number of young people were accessing the online world through their mobile devices.

“The most recent figures show that more than three quarters of 18-25 year olds now access the Internet via their mobile devices and a third surf the web on an iPad or other tablet,” Mr Tanti said.

“These numbers will only go up. headspaceunderstands these trends and we are improving our services to ensure that we’re supporting young people via the channels they are using.”

Mr Tanti said eheadspace had grown rapidly since it was established 18 months ago, with around 18,000 young people now registered for the service, which offers free support to 12-25 year olds via instant messaging, email and over the telephone.

The new website not only allows young people to receive support via their iPhone, iPad or Android device, but also includes a range of other innovations, including:

  • A virtual waiting room with YouTube videos and reading material to entertain and inform young people while they wait for their appointment;
  • A ‘My Account’ page for each registered user, allowing them to manage their settings and review past eheadspacesessions;
  • Responsive web design that fits eheadspace to the screen of any device, even those that haven’t been released yet;
  • Emoticons to help young people express how they are feeling; and
  • Vastly improved accessibility for young people with disabilities.

Mr Tanti said eheadspace, an initiative of the Australian Government, was all about creating a service that young people wanted to come to by making it as accessible and youth-friendly as possible.

“If you are a young person, you need to know thatheadspace will be there for you wherever you are,” Mr Tanti said.

“If you want to go to a centre, we have 55 around the country for you to access. But if you don’t live near aheadspace centre, or prefer talking about your concerns online or over the phone, the neweheadspace site is a great option. And if you want support at school, our new School Support program is also there to help.”

Mr Tanti said the eheadspace innovations would be especially significant for young people living outside capital cities who don’t have immediate access to in person mental health services.

“Our network of centres is growing rapidly but even with this growth there are still young Australians who live too far from a centre to get regular assistance,” Mr Tanti said.

The new eheadspace website complements other essential online counselling services such as those offered by Kids Helpline and Lifeline.

Manager of eheadspace Vikki Ryall said the significant growth in the number of young people coming through its virtual doors indicates that many now see online support as a preferable option.

“We hear it all the time, young people saying ‘Finally, adults are talking to us in the way we want to be spoken to, over the medium we prefer’,” Ms Ryall said.

“We know some young people still find it hard to walk into a traditional mental health service, so options likeeheadspace make the first step of getting help much easier.”

Ms Ryall said eheadspace was expanding its service all the time, with support for parents now available, as well as a GP service soon to be offered. Recently a vocational expert was appointed to help support young people in their work or study needs.

“Young people are voting with their feet and signing up to these services in larger and larger numbers every month. We hope the improvements announced today will make it even more popular across the country,” she said.

headspace media contact: Ben Hart, Public Affairs Manager
Mobile: 0407 445 551