Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Mick Gooda, and National Children’s Commissioner, Megan Mitchell, have called on all Australians to support the rights of all children as they celebrate Children’s Day.
In a statement released on National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day (Children’s Day) Mr Gooda and Ms Mitchell highlighted the day as an opportunity to reflect on the progress made in advancing the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.
“The theme of this year’s Children’s Day is Little People, Big Futures. We have seen positive developments in the wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in terms of improved birthweight, preschool attendance and educational attainment, but there is much more we can do to ensure that these children have bigger, brighter futures,” Ms Mitchell writes.
“All children have the right to be cared for and protected, and live free from violence, but the sad reality is Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children continue to face high levels of self-harm and exposure to family violence and lateral violence. We must do more to keep these children safe from harm so that they can grow up healthy and happy.”
Mr Gooda, a descendent of the Gangulu people of central Queensland, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, and Children’s Day ambassador, said it was vital to address the disproportionate rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children entering the care and juvenile justice systems. The incarceration rate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 10-17 is 24 times higher than non-Indigenous children.
“We need genuine, long-term partnerships between government and communities, and meaningful engagement with families and young people, to ensure the rights of all children are protected and enhanced,” Mr Gooda writes.
“Children’s Day provides an opportunity for us to recognise the fundamental rights of our children to grow up in a safe and supportive environment, with a strong connection to culture and community.”