Thank you Donna, and it’s a pleasure to be here for today’s Tripartite Forum meeting – especially given the enormous volume of work that we have in front of us for this year when it comes to keeping our kids safe.
I would like to first of all acknowledge the traditional owners of the many lands on which we come together today, and pay my respects to elders past and present.
I wish to also recognise my colleague Minister Ken Wyatt, and also Lauren Moss – the Northern Territory Minister for Youth. Thanks for being here.
As I mentioned before, 2021 is going to be a massive year working together for all of us – for the Federal Government, for the Territory Government, and for the Tripartite Forum.
We have a real opportunity to build on the momentum that we’ve secured so far when it comes to our aim to strengthen child safety across the nation, and this Forum will be front-and-centre of these efforts – especially in the Territory.
We all know the terrible stats when it comes to Indigenous children in the child protection systems. But I genuinely think we can secure a real difference in this space, especially when there has been some encouraging developments in recent months.
I’m pleased to advise that we have made great progress when it comes to developing, and eventually delivering, the successor plan to the National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children.
Spread across two five-year action plans, state and territory governments have now agreed that the successor plan will have a huge focus on addressing the overrepresentation of Aboriginal kids in child protection. Ministers have also discussed the importance of supporting vulnerable families through effective, evidence-based early intervention approaches.
I can also confirm that next month, all ministers will be meeting to discuss in detail, the outcomes which we want to achieve through the successor plan.
Importantly, the Federal Government has also agreed with the states and territories that the successor plan must align with the new National Closing the Gap Agreement.
As you all know, the 16 new targets were negotiated directly with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representatives and it gives us a really effective template going forward.
In terms of the work that I’m currently doing, I wanted to mention how important it is to have Target #12 included in this Agreement – to reduce the rates of Indigenous kids entering out-of-home care by 45% by the year 2031 -and I expect that the 10-year successor plan to the National Framework will have a key role to play here.
I can assure all of you that as we develop the successor plan, there will be an extensive co-design process with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and the sector.
This co-design will begin shortly and will run until October this year.
During these consultations, your feedback and views about how this successor plan can make a real difference on the ground for Indigenous children and their families will be essential, so don’t hold back.
We know that the best advice always comes from those who work, experience and see these issues first-hand – and that’s what we are really keen to include in the successor plan.
So make sure you let us know what you think should be the focus, especially under the first five-year action plan, which we are aiming to get off the ground and rolled out in November.
And please remember that my office is always open if you would like to discuss anything about the successor plan, or if you require any further information or details.
So once again thanks for having me along today, and on that note I’ll hand it back to Donna.