29 November 2019
The Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency (VACCA) welcomes the release of the first interim report of the Royal Commission into Victoria's Mental Health System. We are the largest Aboriginal child welfare service in Victoria having operated our service to our community for over forty years.
We know that in Victoria, the dimensions of social and emotional wellbeing problems in our community are significant and contributes to a large number of Aboriginal children entering the child protection system. Often mental illnesses are undiagnosed often being left so until children and young people enter the child protection and the juvenile justice system.
We reiterate our support for the interim recommendations which call for an expansion of social and emotional wellbeing teams throughout Victoria and the setting up of a new Aboriginal Social and Emotional Wellbeing Centre which will support these teams.
The centre will help expand social and emotional wellbeing services through: clinical, organisational and cultural governance planning and development workforce development — including by enabling the recommended scholarships guidance, tools and practical supports for building clinical effectiveness in assessment, diagnosis and treatment, developing and disseminating research and evidence for social and emotional wellbeing models and convening associated communities of practice.
We understand that that the Royal Commission will explore these issues further next year including the scope of the mental illness amongst Aboriginal families and children and we hope this will lead to a more comprehensive response to the pressing needs in our community.
We also support the call by the Victorian Aboriginal Children and Young People’s Alliance who are calling for an Aboriginal specific roundtable to bring to light the systemic failings of child protection and mental health systems on Aboriginal children, young people, their families and carers. This will also provide Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations the opportunity to highlight the innovative solutions they have driven in their communities.
We commend the Andrews' Government for establishing the Royal Commission and look forward to playing our part in the establishment of responses for the wellbeing of our community.
The interim report is available to read here.