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Ambassadors highlight importance of support for Aboriginal families

Two of Western Australia’s Ambassadors for Children and Young People, Professor Fiona Stanley AC and June Oscar AO, highlighted the need to support families to ensure the wellbeing of our Aboriginal children and young people at a national conference today.

Both Ambassadors addressed the Secretariat of National Aboriginal and Islander Care national conference in Perth, attended by a wide audience of government and non-government representatives.

Professor Stanley spoke about the importance of family, school and community to support the wellbeing of children and young people, however she made the point that it was also the broader environment and the extent to which a civil society values parents and childhood that had a significant impact on children.

Children need empowering, engaging parents – in the words of Professor Stanley, “what parents do is ultimately more important than who parents are”.

June Oscar spoke about how the shadow of trauma influenced future generations, the need for services to be healing informed, trauma informed and culturally secure and that there had to be a joint commitment to partnership from both Indigenous organisations and government.

In addition, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner Mick Gooda spoke about the need to wipe out racism and discrimination so that kids can feel safe and secure to be Aboriginal. This was a key theme in our recent consultation with Aboriginal children and young people, with many saying that they regularly experienced racism and discrimination.

At the conference I was pleased to hear several speakers reference the voices of children and young people in the report from our consultation with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people, “Listen To Us”: Using the views of WA Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people to improve policy and service delivery.

What children and young people told us about their lives echoes some of the themes from today’s conference – a respect for culture and pride in their heritage and the value of strong family and community connections.

Attendees at the conference were wowed by an amazing hip hop performance by the Swan Alliance Beat Walkers, who were involved in our consultation earlier this year.

Jenni Perkins
Acting Commissioner for Children and Young People