8 February 2023 |
Media release issued by the Queensland Government on behalf of First Nations caucus members |
All Australian First Nations children’s commissioners, guardians and advocates have agreed to a raft of national advocacy priorities required to improve the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, young people and families across the country.
Speaking on behalf of the caucus, Queensland Family and Child Commission (QFCC) Commissioner Natalie Lewis said the priorities aligned to the Federal Government’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander First Action Plan 2023–26, released under the Safe and Supported national framework, and supported efforts needed to meet targets under the National Agreement on Closing the Gap.
“The over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in statutory child protection systems and youth justice systems are persistent across every state and territory in Australia, underscoring an urgent need for national approaches to reduce these trends,” Ms Lewis said.
“January’s inaugural meeting of First Nations children’s commissioners, guardians and advocates provided a constructive forum for us, as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People and statutory officers, to examine each jurisdictions’ strengths in addressing these issues and identify the areas that require the greatest attention.
“Through this forum, we identified 11 priorities that centre on issues of critical concern, where we believe we can make the most significant impact through our collective advocacy.
“Our collective advocacy will support many of the actions set out in the recently launched Safe and Supported Action Plan for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, and we continue to monitor and support the actions required for governments to meet Closing the Gap targets around reducing the disproportionate representation of First Nations children in both the youth justice system and in out-of-home care.”
Ms Lewis said the advocacy agenda was firmly centred around the rights, safety and wellbeing of First Nations children, young people and their families.
“Fundamentally, this is about addressing the inequity experienced by many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families across Australia and is a clear expression of our collective commitment to show up, to raise awareness, and to advocate and promote accountability for upholding the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people,” Ms Lewis said.
The First Nations caucus of Australian children’s commissioners, guardians and advocates will meet quarterly throughout 2023 and will report on their advocacy priorities.
The 11 priorities can be viewed in a Statement from Australian First Nations Children’s Commissioners, Guardians and Advocates.
First Nations caucus members include:
- Shona Reid, Guardian for Children and Young People, South Australia
- April Lawrie, Commissioner for Aboriginal Children and Young People, South Australia
- Meena Singh, Commissioner for Aboriginal Children and Young People, Victoria
- Nicole Hucks, Assistant Children’s Commissioner, Northern Territory
- Jacqueline McGowan-Jones, Commissioner for Children and Young People, Western Australia
- Barbara Causon, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children and Young People Advocate, Australian Capital Territory
- Natalie Lewis, Commissioner Queensland Family and Child Commission, Queensland