The call for yet another inquiry into the sexual abuse of Aboriginal children raises concerns of political point scoring, as recommendations from past inquiries go unactioned.
Previous experience tells us we should be very careful about drawing conclusions from limited data and evidence. Having been on the ground with the troubled NT intervention that lasted from 2007 to 2012, the human abuses were evident. The Australian Human Rights Commission in 2008 said that statistics for confirmed child abuse did not appear to support the "allegations of endemic child abuse in NT remote communities.”
In response to calls for another inquiry, Muriel Bamblett, Chair of SNAICC, said “those that don’t pause to entertain the truth will always spin a story of fear, distrust, and divisiveness for their own interests. If there was any evidence that this request is about children or strengthening families, then it would be easy to support.”
The solution lies in reforming broken systems, not in continuing to go over ground that has already been covered. “Royal Commissions are expensive, and we would be better placed to audit past inquiries and implement their recommendations while they continue to sit on a shelf,” said Ms Bamblett. “We need to change the system. Reforming systems that have no accountability to stop abuse is not attractive to media attention or something you can build a political legacy on, but this is what needs to happen,” she continued.
Alongside reforms to systems, there needs to be an investment in prevention. Local voices matter, and local communities are demanding basic human rights like sustainable housing, access to healthcare, education, and employment. These are all well-known prevention factors that will contribute to the reduction of abuse and violence in all communities.
“We also need to be careful with how we frame asks. We are demonising Aboriginal men and reinforcing false stereotypes just to get media attention,” Ms Bamblett said. “We know nationally that most violence and abuse towards Aboriginal people is by non-Aboriginal people.”
The evidence is clear that the best interests of Aboriginal children are served by Aboriginal-led solutions, and that those in power must take Aboriginal voices into account when making decisions.
“While everybody has a responsibility for the protection of all children, politicians must take the power and privilege their roles provide them with integrity and truth,” said Ms Bamblett. “The voice of Aboriginal people is more important than ever, and it must be used for the best interests of Aboriginal children and families. Not political point scoring.”
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – 19 October 2023
Sarah Gafforini – Director, Office of the CEO VACCA
T: 0427 621 421 / E: firstname.lastname@example.org
ABOUT VACCA - www.vacca.org
The Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency (VACCA) is the State’s leading Aboriginal child and family services organisation, and the largest provider of services for Aboriginal family violence and homelessness. We have been supporting children, young people and families in the community for over 45 years, as an Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisation (ACCO).
Through our vision of self-determination – Live, Experience, and Be – we exist to support culturally strong, safe and thriving Aboriginal communities. We deliver over 70 programs across Victoria including child and family services, family violence, support for stolen generations, child protection, cultural strengthening programs, mental health, financial services, justice and redress support, early years and homelessness services.
We acknowledge the traditional owners of the lands on which we work. We pay our respects to their elders, past and present, and to their children and young people who are the future elders and caretakers of this great land.