I see the future for Aboriginal Children and Young People – and it is good

SYNOPSIS:There are some 47,000 Aboriginal people in Victoria and close to half that number is children and young people aged under18 years. Most Aboriginal households include children and more of the children are attending kindergarten and graduating from year 12.

Despite years of negative outcomes, the outlook for Aboriginal children is brighter and looking skywards. There is evidence that strong culture and communities contribute to improved outcomes for First Peoples. The challenge is to shift the paradigm of the service system and government from a focus on crisis to one that recognises a balance is needed to also support and strengthen families and young people that are doing ok.

Now is the time for government to support Aboriginal families to enjoy culturally rich home environments that are healthy and safe. It is a time to invest in our emerging young leaders and new parents and create lasting change for our babies, children and young people. Now is not the time for government to withdraw vital investment. Aboriginal health and wellbeing is about the whole Community in which each individual is able to achieve their full potential thereby bringing about the total wellbeing of their Community and this needs to underpin action.

SPEAKER:Andrew Jackomos PSM, a Yorta Yorta man, was appointed in July 2013 as the inaugural Victorian Commissioner for Aboriginal Children and Young People, the first such position in Australia. For the previous 14 years, Andrew was the Director of the Koorie Justice Unit in the Victorian Department of Justice. He was responsible for coordinating three phases of the Aboriginal Justice Agreement, the development of the Aboriginal Justice Forum, where he oversaw significant growth of the Aboriginal workforce, as well as the establishment and growth of the Koorie Court network within the Magistrate’s, Children’s and County Courts.

Andrew is a member of the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples, the Aboriginal Justice Forum, Indigenous Family Violence Partnership Forum, Responsible Gambling Ministerial Advisory Committee and Liquor Control Advisory Council. He has been invited to join the Chief Commissioners Human Rights Strategic Advisory Committee commencing in the second half of 2014. Andrew chairs both the Committee’s Sports Betting Working Group and the Western Bulldog’s Nallei Jerring Koorie Youth Program.

In 2006 in recognition of his work improving justice outcomes for the Koori community, Andrew was awarded the Public Service Medal and admitted as a Victorian Fellow with the Institute of Public Administration Australia. In 2013 Andrew was then admitted as a National Fellow of the Institute.

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