Aboriginal children and young people have a significant role to play in the future prosperity of the State and their views must be used to better support their wellbeing and help them reach their potential, says the acting Commissioner for Children and Young People Jenni Perkins.
The Commissioner made this statement today when tabling in the WA Parliament a report based on the views of 1,271 Aboriginal children and young people from across the State, the largest single consultation undertaken since the establishment of the Commissioner’s role.
Ms Perkins said the report, “Listen To Us”, provides a strong and compelling voice for making practical changes to the way agencies support Aboriginal children and young people’s healthy development and wellbeing.
“The Aboriginal children and young people who took part in this consultation provided important insight into the factors that influence their lives, including their views on family and community, education, culture, recreation and sport, and racism and reconciliation,” Ms Perkins said.
“A clear message from Aboriginal children and young people was the importance of strong connections with family and culture, and the value of education and appropriate support as a way of achieving long-term goals.
“Some also spoke candidly about health and safety concerns they have for their family members, friends and themselves, which matches what we know about the significant and ongoing disadvantage too many Aboriginal children and young people experience.
“For their wellbeing to be improved, the views and insights of Aboriginal children and young people must be carefully considered and utilised by community organisations and all levels of government.
“This report is an important resource and will enable agencies to improve policies and service delivery based on the valuable knowledge and insights of Aboriginal children and young people about what impacts their lives.
“However, this report must just be the start of a commitment by all agencies to recognise that Aboriginal children and young people’s wellbeing is their core business, and to working closely with children and young people and communities to establish new and innovative approaches.”
The Commissioner tabled the report today to coincide with National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day, which is celebrated on 4 August every year.
A group of Aboriginal students from Hampton Senior High School and Kiara College helped the Commissioner table the report, and later met with the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Peter Collier, and members of the Joint Standing Committee that oversees the legislated functions of the Commissioner.
The Commissioner said that, having spoken to many Aboriginal children and young people and community members over the past 18 months, she is encouraged by their sense of hope and bold visions for the future.
“Aboriginal children and young people must be supported to work towards the goals and dreams they aspire to, including the 12 year-old girl from the Kimberley who one day wants to be Prime Minister of her country.
“The young people who accompanied me to Parliament House today all participate in the Follow the Dream program and are another example of the incredible potential of WA Aboriginal children and young people.”
In addition to “Listen To Us” the Commissioner released today two other publications from the consultation:
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children and Young People Speak Out - a community report that focusses on the views of the children who took part in the consultation.
- This Is Me – 12 Aboriginal children and young people’s stories, in their own voice, about their lives and hopes for the future. This publication was developed in response to comments received during the consultation that having role models and people to look up to are important to children and young people. This Is Me profiles stories of 12 everyday WA Aboriginal children and young people who are working hard to help their families and communities and create a positive future.
All publications are available from www.ccyp.wa.gov.au
More about the consultation
There were 17 creative-based consultations held across Western Australia involving 789 children and young people from Laverton, Norseman, Leonora, Kalgoorlie, Gibson, Mandurah, Derby, Geraldton, Busselton, Broome, Kalgoorlie, Roebourne, Fitzroy Crossing and vicinity, Beagle Bay, Kununurra, Newman, Marble Bar, Nullagine, Albany, Mt Barker, Gnowangerup, Tambellup, Meekatharra and the Perth metropolitan area.
Aboriginal children and young people had a say through creative and arts-based consultation processes including song, painting and activities in culturally relevant outdoor locations.
Some of the contributions from these consultations can be viewed on the project’s Facebook page.
A further 482 children and young people completed an online survey for the Commissioner.