The new Closing the Gap targets are an important step towards improving the outcomes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families, says Save the Children.
The child rights agency welcomes the new agreement, which involved consultation and negotiation between governments and more than 50 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled peak bodies.
Save the Children Australia CEO Paul Ronalds said:
“We welcome the new Closing the Gap Agreement, and we strongly support the engagement of a broad range of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations in the consultation process.
“It is essential that the fundamental right of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people to self determination is protected, and promoted.
“We welcome the new out-of-home care target. The trauma associated with removal of children is immense, with intergenerational impacts.
“Addressing this will require increased investment in prevention and early intervention support to keep children with their families. Where it is necessary for children to be removed, they must always be placed with Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander families.
“We also welcome the inclusion of a specific target to reduce the rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people in detention over the next decade, however we are disappointed the target was not more ambitious.
“When a young person is incarcerated, it can have an incredibly damaging impact on their development and future life outcomes.
“Rather than investing in detaining young people, governments should be funding proven justice reinvestment programs that divert young people out of the justice system and into positive pathways.
“Not only is this in the best interests of the child, but it reduces crime long-term and saves taxpayer funds.
“The failure this week by Commonwealth, State and Territory governments to raise the minimum age of criminal responsibility will make these justice targets that much harder to reach.
“Save the Children once again urges the Australian Government to act on the Uluru Statement, and in particular its call to establish an elected Voice to Parliament and a Makarrata Commission.”
Save the Children runs a number of justice reinvestment programs working with youth across Australia.
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