18 November 2014 | General Interest
SNAICC has published its 2013–14 Annual Report, covering our activities and finances from 1 July 2013 to 30 June 2014, as well as the highly-successful 2014 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day on 4 August.
Among the highlights of our work in 2013–14, SNAICC:
- released a ground-breaking report, titled The Journey to Big School, on ‘transition to school’ issues for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families
- published major new resources to support those working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families
- advocated with and on behalf of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled early years services, including the 38 new Aboriginal Child and Family Centres (ACFCs), on sustainable long-term funding for services
- held forums in the Northern Territory and Western Australia as part of a series of state-territory consultations under the Family Matters — Kids in Culture, Not in Care national initiative to reduce the high number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out-of-home care
- strengthened and diversified its training activities, to include training based on new SNAICC resources on transition to school, delivering trauma-informed services, and developing respectful partnerships.
In her overview of 2013–14, SNAICC Chairperson Sharron Williams said a major focus of SNAICC’s work had continued to be advocating to secure sustainable funding for Indigenous community-controlled early childhood education and care services.
“Despite years of under-funding, the services — numbering around 300 across Australia — are nurturing children and getting them school-ready, providing accessible, affordable and integrated support to families, creating employment and building the capacity of their communities,” Ms Williams wrote.
On the funding uncertainty facing the newest of these services, the 38 ACFCs, Ms Williams pointed out the centres had been created under a COAG partnership to provided integrated programs to children and families in some of Australia’s most disadvantaged communities.
“It is a bewildering situation that these new purpose-built centres should be engulfed in funding uncertainty from the outset: bewildering for the ACFCs and their staff, and the children, families and communities using their much-needed services,” Ms Williams wrote.
The SNAICC Chairperson noted SNAICC’s serious concerns with the review of the Budget Based Funded (BBF) program — which funds some 270 Indigenous early years services across Australia — particularly the review’s emphasis on BBF services eventually becoming self-sustaining.
“The review ignores the reality that many of these services operate in disadvantaged communities where a mainstream, self-sustaining child care model, that relies on the community paying, is not feasible,” Ms Williams wrote.
Another core issue for SNAICC in 2013–14 — and one on which SNAICC was founded more than 30 years ago — continued to be the alarmingly high and spiralling number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children being placed in out-of-home care.
At 30 June 2013, there were 13,952 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out-of-home care in Australia — or 34.4 per cent of all children in care.
To emphasise the scale and urgency of the situation, Ms Williams has previously described the high figures as “a national disgrace”.
“The human and financial costs of this explosion in child removals are immense. And, as recent history shows, separation from family and culture will impact on children, their families and communities and the wider society for the generations to come,” she wrote in the annual report.
In 2013–14 SNAICC and partner agencies commenced a series of national consultations under the Family Matters — Kids in Culture, Not in Care initiative. A forum was held in Darwin and community meeting in Alice Springs in November 2013, with a corresponding forum in Perth and community meeting in Fitzroy Crossing in June 2014.
The consultations were attended by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community members and other key players in the child welfare sector and have generated a list of practical recommendations for government, NGOs, SNAICC and the community to improve child protection outcomes.