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Family Matters Report 2017: Calls for urgent action on the unacceptable rate at which Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are being removed.

Family Matters Report 2017: Without urgent action the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children removed from family will triple in the next 20 years
NOVEMBER 29, 2017 BY FAMILY MATTERS

Download the Family Matters Report 2017

Family Matters Report 2017

Family Matter Media Release

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 – 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.

“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.”

– Natalie Lewis, Family Matters Co-Chair

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.

“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.”

– Natalie Lewis

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.

“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.”

– Natalie Lewis

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Free to Be Kids – National Plan of Action released

A plan to transform the justice system for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children

Today 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 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,” said Antoinette Braybrook, Co-Chair of Change the Record.

“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.

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]

 

Change the Record - Free to be Kids

 

 

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Innovative Murri learning program keeping kids out of trouble in Mackay.

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Recently ATSILS Communication and Sector Engagement Team met had met with Justin Giblett Coordinator of Kutta Mulla Gorinna (KMG), a deadly alternative learning program supporting and empowering our young ones to stay in contact with education and chase their dreams.

The program started in 2015 and it’s supportive and flexible approach to learning has attracted a number of disengaged/high risk youth back to an education pathway, diverted them away from the justice system and is achieving great attendance rates of between 80-90%. Despite its success however, the program has faced a constant battle in attracting regular funding and is in danger of closing its doors.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people are significantly over-represented in the criminal justice system and are 24x more likely than non-indigenous juveniles to be in detention. As the QLD Government & other governments around the nation look to justice/social reinvestment solutions to address this issue, it is critical they invest and support programs like KMG already making a difference in their local community.

Justice Reinvestment is a holistic approach that see funds diverted away from prisons and towards programs that address disadvantage and the root causes of crime. For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, these programs must be locally designed and community led to be effective.

KMG as a great example of a community designed and led initiative that can steer our youth away from the criminal justice system through education and create effective pathways to future employment for vulnerable kids.

Follow and support their great work here:
http://bit.ly/2rhqFxZ

View Article: ‘At-risk’ kids could lose their final school’
https://www.cqnews.com.au/news/at-risk-kids-could-lose-their-final-school/3174236/#more-replies

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OPCAT – the torture prevention treaty that ensures the human rights and dignity of people in places of detention are protected.

The Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture – OPCAT – sends a clear message: the risk of torture and other ill-treatment exists in all situations where persons are deprived of their liberty . The OPCAT is a UN treaty that Australia has signed up to that would ensure national and international monitoring of people in these vulnerable situations. The transparency this creates acts as a deterrent to violating human rights in the first place. The OPCAT has bipartisan support, but has not been put into effect. Australia has sat on it since 2009. We call on the Australian government to ratify OPCAT as a matter of urgency as we believe this treaty is fundamental to ensuring the human rights and dignity of people in places of detention are protected.

Find out more about OPCAT here:
https://www.humanrights.gov.au/our-work/rights-and-freedoms/projects/optional-protocol-convention-against-torture-opcat

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OPCAT – Torture Prevention Treaty.

The Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture – OPCAT – sends a clear message: the risk of torture and other ill-treatment exists in all situations where persons are deprived of their liberty. Therefore, prevention is needed everywhere and at all times.

At ATSILS we’re calling on the Australian Government to ratify OPCAT as a matter of urgency to protect the rights of all in detention.

The UN Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture (OPCAT) is an international agreement which aims to prevent torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment in detention.

Learn More: Australian Human Rights Commission: OPCAT and Australia
https://www.humanrights.gov.au/news/stories/opcat-and-australia