As we reflect on the 10th anniversary of the Apology to the Stolen Generations, it is useful to recall the two national inquiries that were the drivers for the Apology: the 1995 Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission inquiry that resulted in the Bringing Them Home report, and before that in 1987, Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody. Note that the recommendations from both of these inquiries have still not been fully implemented.
The 10th anniversary of the Apology reminds us of the increasingly disproportionate representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in the child protection and youth justice systems. Another reminder is the release of Closing the Gap – Prime Minister’s Report 2018, which reported progress against only three measures.
Information and strategies for legislators, policy makers, funders, program developers and practitioners to change this are included in Family Matters, the Family Matters Report 2017, and recent publications such as Understanding and Applying the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Placement Principle. The Family Matters media release about the anniversary of the Apology highlights the need for “…new targets through the Closing the Gap refresh to eliminate over-representation in out-of-home care and address the gap in access to early childhood supports that help to keep children safe at home.” The point is made that targets must relate to strategies that address underlying causes of child protection intervention, such as family violence, intergenerational trauma, drug and alcohol, mental health and disability issues.