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Programs and services must listen and respond to the views of Aboriginal children if we are to close the gap

The Commissioner for Children and Young People WA Colin Pettit said the national Closing the Gap report released earlier this week is a reminder that we must continue to evaluate and improve the strategies we use to support Aboriginal children and young people.

While many targets remain unmet and require ongoing attention, the Commissioner said he is encouraged by the gain made in the proportion of WA Aboriginal young people completing Year 12 or equivalent.

“The Closing the Gap report states that the proportion of WA Aboriginal young people completing Year 12 has improved from 43 per cent in 2008 to 58.4 per cent in 2014-15,” Mr Pettit said.

“This is not insignificant as research tells us that successful completion of Year 12 provides benefits to a range of long-term wellbeing measures.

“The lack of significant progress in other measures is of great concern to me, particularly as I travel the State and see the impact these gaps have on many children’s lives.

“The response to this report must include persistence and a focus on research and analysis of programs to show what is and what isn’t delivering practical benefits to children and young people’s health.”

Mr Pettit said we must also listen and respond to the views of children and young people.

“In a range of consultations, Aboriginal children and young people have told me they want to see culture strongly supported in places like school and the community, and in the way services are delivered.

“They also say that strong, trustworthy and long-term relationships are vital to them, particularly for those children and young people who are struggling to overcome adversity in their lives.

“Programs and services must respond to these views if they wish to be effective.”