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Early childhood specialist Fiona Stanley has called for a fundamental shift in government policy to arrest rates of Indigenous juvenile imprisonment and save children from neglectful homes.
The former Australian of the Year said the 'juggernaut of spending' on Aboriginal people was wasted because it did not focus on prevention and engage families in the delivery of services. Professor Stanley said she disagreed with Police Commissioner Karl O'Callaghan's call last weekend for more children to be removed from their parents, noting that second, third and even fourth-generation effects of removal were still prevalent. 'In our research, every adverse outcome including crime, gambling, substance abuse, mental health problems, low birth weight were all higher in the group that had a history of forced removal from parents.'
The call comes in conjunction with Indigenous leader Ted Wilkes suggesting that a coalition of Aboriginal agencies should be funded to set up and manage hostels for neglected children and rehabilitation centres for their parents. Professor Wilkes has started work to form the coalition, including the Aboriginal Legal Service and health services, to make a funding proposal for hostels for children at risk. 'We would want to work in partnership with the police, justice system and education department, and the private sector,' he said.
'When Aboriginal people are engaged with the solutions, not only do they work but the self- esteem within the Aboriginal community rises because people are proud and that affects things like adolescent suicide and mental health,' said Professor Stanley.
Source: The West Australian, NACCHO Communique