ACTCOSS today welcomed a long overdue funding announcement by the ACT Government to support Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander children and families.
The funding includes $4.9 million to implement recommendations of the Our Booris, Our Way review into the over-representation of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander children in the ACT child protection system and $1.6 million to strengthen support for First Nations families across housing, child protection and other supports for children and families and domestic violence responses.
ACTCOSS CEO, Dr Emma Campbell said: “We welcome this funding, but it’s long overdue. The ACT has some of the worst statistics when it comes to outcomes for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander families and children.
“Last month’s Productivity Commission Report on Government Services (ROGS) data revealed the continuing overrepresentation of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander children and young people in out-of-home care. In 2019-20 the rate of children in care was over 72 per 1,000 children aged 0-17 years in the ACT – fourteen times higher than the rate for non-Indigenous children and well above the national rate.
“The ROGS data also showed that the ACT has some of the lowest levels of spending on family and child supports of any jurisdiction in Australia.
“Canberra’s First Nations communities and organisations have long been calling on the ACT Government to implement the Our Booris, Our Way review recommendations. Some of the recommendations are nearly three years old and have still not been implemented.
“However, we are yet to see details of exactly how this money will be spent. It is important that priority is given to investment in front-line services, in particular Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations. It must not be spent on unnecessary administration and bureaucracy.
“To this end, the ACT Government must consult with Canberra’s Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander communities and organisations about just how this money should be used,” Dr Campbell said.
The ACT Government also announced $317,000 for the development for a governance structure and administration process for a new 10-year $20 million ACT Government Reconciliation Fund to support Closing the Gap.
“Given the significant amount of work that needs to be done to improve outcomes for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples in the ACT, we hope that the establishment of this fund marks the beginning of serious investment in the policies and changes that Canberra’s First Nations communities and organisations have long been calling for,” Dr Campbell concluded.
ACTCOSS advocates for social justice in the ACT and represents not-for-profit community organisations.