First Nations children’s commissioners, guardians release national priorities
Australian First Nations children’s commissioners, guardians and advocates have agreed to a range of national advocacy priorities necessary to improve the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, young people and families across the country.
The WA Commissioner for Children and Young People, Jacqueline McGowan-Jones, said the priorities align 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.
“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people remain significantly over-represented in statutory child protection and youth justice systems across every state and territory of Australia,” Commissioner McGowan-Jones 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, to hear from each other the areas having the greatest impact on children and young people, that require our greatest attention.”
“What we are witnessing are ongoing rights violations against the Convention on the Rights of the Child, United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Children and young people are being retraumatised by systems that are failing them. These are failures of multiple systems, over multiple governments, over multiples years,” Ms McGowan-Jones said.
“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 collaborative efforts to highlight these issues at a national level to bring about collective change.”
Jacqueline McGowan-Jones said the advocacy agenda was firmly centred around the rights, safety and wellbeing of First Nations children, young people and their families but does not exclude other children and young people who are caught up in a cycle of vulnerability.
“If we get it right for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, we will get it right for all children.”
“I am excited to do national advocacy for our children and young people.”
“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 McGowan-Jones said
The 11 priorities can be viewed in the Statement from Australian First Nations Children’s Commissioners, Guardians and Advocates.
First Nations caucus members include:
- Barbara Causon, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children and Young People Advocate, Australian Capital Territory
- Nicole Hucks, Assistant Children’s Commissioner, Northern Territory
- April Lawrie, Commissioner for Aboriginal Children and Young People, South Australia
- Natalie Lewis, Commissioner Queensland Family and Child Commission, Queensland
- Shona Reid, Guardian for Children and Young People, South Australia
- Meena Singh, Commissioner for Aboriginal Children and Young People, Victoria
- Jacqueline McGowan-Jones, Commissioner for Children and Young People, Western Australia
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