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Now more than ever - Reconciliation Week 2024

This year's National Reconciliation Week theme, ‘Now More Than Ever’, highlights the ongoing struggle for justice and the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. 

Each of us has a role in reconciliation. By playing our part collectively, we build relationships and communities that honour and respect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, their histories, cultures, and futures. As this week approached, we have reflected on our responsibilities within this space. 

Indigenous children are in out-of-home care at an alarming rate compared to non-indigenous kids. In 2023, 43.7% of children aged 0-17 years old in out-of-home care were Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, a 3.7% increase since 2019. Additionally, an indigenous child is 10.5 times more likely to be in out-of-home care than a non-indigenous child. And, fewer than half of indigenous children in care are living with indigenous carers. The data shows a continuing rise in the rate of indigenous children in out-of-home care across Australia. 

We see the significant risk this poses to causing further harm to generations of indigenous peoples. Whilst we acknowledge the impact of the failing system on all children in out-of-home care, we recognise the significant impact this has on causing further harm to indigenous peoples - their history, culture, and future generations. 

Across Australia state and territory governments run child protection systems. These systems that children are placed in perpetuate the issues we face - they are disconnected from their culture, their land, and their identity. These systems are inherently flawed, designed to perpetuate cycles of harm rather than break them. 

That is the fight we will continue to fight when working with kids in out-of-home care. We will continue to advocate for the best interests and needs of the child or young person in care because it’s about them, not about ticking boxes. We will continue to fight by advocating for systemic changes that prioritise the well-being of indigenous children and centre their voices and experiences in decision-making processes. 

The State cannot be a parent. The care and protection services are failing our children because the system was perfectly designed to be broken. To all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children in “care” and “protection” know that you are loved, protected and cared for, not by the state but by the love of the old people, the ancestors and the place that remains, you are that place. 

“Now more than ever, the work continues. In treaty-making, in truth-telling, in understanding our history, in education, and in tackling racism. We need connection. We need respect. We need action. And we need change. Now more than ever, we need reconciliation”


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