Push for change on apology anniversary
A historic anniversary has been used to push for targets to reduce the number of Indigenous children in care.
This week marks ten years since Kevin Rudd’s landmark apology to the stolen generation, but number of Indigenous children living in out-of-home care has since that date in 2008.
“It’s clear that whatever strategy has been in place has failed – consistently so – and it is our children that bear the burden of the system’s inability to get this right,” Natalie Lewis, co-chair of the new Family Matters campaign, has told reporters.
The Family Matters campaign wants targets for out-of-home care to be added to in the refreshed Closing the Gap strategy.
It also wants investment in and support of Aboriginal community-controlled organisations to be boosted, so that they can play a greater role in designing and running related policies.
Less than 20 percent of child protection-related funding goes towards family support, Lewis said.
“We cannot continue to invest so heavily in responding to the problems rather than investing in the solutions,” she said.
Sharron Williams chairs the Secretariat of National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care (SNAICC), which is part of the Family Matters campaign.
She says Indigenous children are in a worse position after the decade since the apology.
“The national apology, the acknowledgement of the atrocities that occurred, was important for so many people, and for so many reasons,” Ms Williams said.
“However, I think we all believed that saying sorry was about more than just the past, and that it was also a resolve to create a better future for our children.”
Mr Turnbull marked the anniversary by reaffirming Mr Rudd’s apology in parliament, and announcing $1.3 million in funding for the Healing Foundation to help determine the best way to support the surviving members of the stolen generations.
The Healing Foundation says there are about 21,000 stolen children still living.
Mr Turnbull said Mr Rudd’s apology “recognised that skin colour had been used to control the lives of Indigenous people and diminish their value in society”.
“A person’s right to shape their own identity and for that identity to be respected is absolutely central to the wellbeing of all people,” he said.