Thirteen years since historic Apology


Australia will mark the thirteenth anniversary of the apology to the Stolen Generations without a Closing the Gap statement, in a break with long-standing practice.

Kevin Rudd delivered the historic apology on February 13, 2008. Each year since then the prime minister has presented the Closing the Gap statement in parliament as close to that date as possible.

While the government will present a statement to parliament on February 15 marking the anniversary, and outlining progress in the Indigenous portfolio, the new Closing the Gap implementation plan will not be released until July.

Reports will be provided annually after that, Indigenous Australians Minister Ken Wyatt said on Friday.

Mr Rudd on Friday called the change "a brazen effort to wriggle out of accountability" in a tweet.

"All Australians deserve to know on Monday how their government is succeeding or failing in terms of meeting the #ClosingTheGap targets," he wrote.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander groups are drawing attention to the ongoing, growing gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australia on the anniversary.

The number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children removed from their families has more than doubled since the Apology, according to a group of experts.

Peak body SNAICC, which represents the interests of Indigenous children and their families, said the Apology was "only the first step in truth telling for our nation".

"We need to move from acknowledgement to action and recognise that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are the experts in providing culturally responsive services to our children and families," said SNAICC CEO Catherine Liddle in a statement.

"The National Agreement on Closing the Gap is an opportunity to invest in genuine support for our children and families to enable healing and break the cycle of trauma."

Aboriginal Legal Service NSW/ACT CEO Karly Warner said Indigenous expertise needed to play a greater role in court proceedings.

"Aboriginal expertise is rarely called upon in child protection court proceedings," Ms Warner said in a statement.

She said courts needed to recognise the experience and passed-down knowledge of elders and grandparents, and not only those Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with doctorates and professional standing.

ALS was part of a symposium of experts, including child welfare practitioners including social workers, legal professionals, psychologists, academics, and community advocates, who met on Friday to call for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander expertise to be recognised.

The groups also want child protection systems to be transformed to reflect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and values. 

(Source)

 

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