Victorian Government fails First Nations children and women

Australian Greens

The Victorian Greens have said the state government must urgently act to address alarming new statistics on the rates of Aboriginal children being removed from their homes.

The Victorian Government Aboriginal Affairs Report 2020 was tabled today and has revealed that over the past decade Aboriginal children have become 20 times more likely to be removed from their homes than non-Aboriginal children. This is a rapid increase over the past decade and higher than any other state or territory in Australia.

The report also found that the number of Aboriginal people attempting suicide has increased from 3.1 per 1,000 people to 17.5 per 1,000 people over the same time period.

It also found that Aboriginal women are now 22 times more likely to be in prison than non-Aboriginal women, a doubling over the 12-year period reported.

Leader of the Victorian Greens, Samantha Ratnam, said the report was a sad indictment on the state’s treatment of Aboriginal communities and that these sharp rises had happened under the Victorian Labor Government’s watch.

She added that the government must act now, and not use Treaty or the Truth-Telling Commission as an excuse to delay action. While these are both critically important processes, they won’t immediately address what’s happening in our hospitals, prisons and homes right now.

The government must urgently get on with overdue reforms to our justice system to stop the cycles of systemic discrimination.

The government must also increase funding to vital services like the Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service who have been chronically under-funded and other culturally appropriate support services.

As stated by Leader of the Victorian Greens, Samantha Ratnam MLC:

“This Victorian Labor Government is failing Aboriginal children. It is taking them away from their homes at horrifying rates, and imprisoning them and their mothers, often for minor offences.

“When Aboriginal kids are 20 times more likely to be ripped from their homes and families than non-Aboriginal kids, and Aboriginal women are 22 times more likely to be locked up, it’s clear there is a systemic, racist problem with our justice system.

“The government must urgently act to address these issues. Any commitment to a Treaty and a Truth-Telling Commission process becomes less meaningful when you allow things like this to happen under your watch.

“This government must invest more in early intervention and support services for families. It must stop starving critical Aboriginal agencies like the Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service of desperately needed funds.”

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