Since the death of George Floyd, who was callously killed in the US on 25 May from the brutal force of a police officer, the call for an end to systemic racism that enables this brand of brutality against people of colour has reverberated around the world.
In Australia, with more than 430 deaths of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in custody since 1991, the call for justice is loud and strong.
SNAICC joins the call against systemic racism that is embedded in government policies and decision making at all levels, disproportionately impacting on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, youth and adults alike.
SNAICC CEO Richard Weston said,
The Uluru Statement talks about the ‘torment of our powerlessness’ when referring to the over-representation of our young people in detention, our children in out-of-home care and high rates of incarceration of adults. These issues are at the heart of the change we need to see in our nation now.”
While the majority of our children are living happy and healthy lives, there is a worrying trajectory towards youth justice, especially for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out-of-home care.
In Australia, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people are 17 times more likely to be in juvenile detention, and represent 49% of young people under supervision in the justice system on an average day (2017–18), despite only making up 5% of youth aged 10–17 years.
There is much work to be done to close the gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and non-Indigenous children. Our children are 2.6 times more likely to be developmentally vulnerable than other children when they start school, and 10.6 times more likely to be in out-of-home care than non-Indigenous children.
Supporting our children in their early years is crucial for them to grow up strong in their identity and culture,” said Mr Weston.
“The new Closing the Gap Agreement provides one opportunity to enable change, so that our children have the opportunity to realise their full potential.
“The Co-Design of a Voice to Parliament presents another. They are not the end game though. Both initiatives are critical steps towards Constitutional Recognition and ultimately to a settling of matters between First Nations people and all Australians – in other words a Treaty.
“The events of the last two weeks demonstrate that until we gain control over our own destiny we will never be free of the intergenerational impacts of Australia’s settler history.
“SNAICC continues to work closely with governments and communities to improve outcomes for our children, because they deserve a future that ensures their lives do matter!”– Richard Weston SNAICC CEO