The last Alumni event of 2020
Joint RCH Alumni and Children’s Rights International (CRI) Medico-Legal Seminar
November 26th via Zoom
An audience of nearly fifty Alumni , Lawyers and others listened to talks by three speakers. The session was co-chaired by Ms Ruth Wraith OAM, President of the Alumni and Hon Alastair Nicholson AO Chairman of CRI.
Dr Garry Warne introduced the first speaker:
Dr Niroshini Kennedy, who is a paediatrician at the Royal Children’s Hospital’s Wadja Clinic, and at the Victorian Aboriginal Health Service, talked about Indigenous children in out of home care because of parental neglect, drug or alcohol abuse or other issues. The number of indigenous children in such sad situations in Victoria was larger than the number of such children in The Northern Territory and they were grossly overrepresented in the population of all children “in care” in Victoria. She discussed the reasons for this disparity and presented a range of strategies to try to remedy this.
She had been awarded a 2018 Jack Brockhoff Foundation Churchill Fellowship to investigate models of Integrated Care for Aboriginal children in statutory care. Her report, “Improving the Health of Aboriginal Children in out-of-home care” was recently been published by the Churchill Trust. She had travelled to many countries around the world to discuss similar issues in other societies. These included Canada, the USA (notably Alaska) and New Zealand, where indigenous populations were also overrepresented in regard to out of home care of children.
Mr Justin Mohamed, Victorian Commissioner for Aboriginal Children and Young People who is a Gooreng Gooreng man from Bundaberg in Queensland then spoke. He had worked with Victorian Aboriginal communities for 20 years before moving to Canberra to take on national positions as Chairperson of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) and Chief Executive Officer of Reconciliation Australia.
Both these presentations were extremely well delivered and very moving as they went into the tragic situations experienced by many indigenous children who saw themselves as being another “Stolen Generation”, having been taken away from their families and culture.
Magistrate Jennifer Bowles, who has been a Magistrate for almost 22 years and has sat for over half that time in the Children’s Court of Victoria, gave the final presentation, describing the harrowing situation that magistrates find themselves in in trying to avoid sending these children into out of home care, but in many instances with little choice when parents and other family members are unable to provide care for them.
Altogether this was an outstanding seminar. A recording may be viewed via the following link: