ACOSS On Indigenous Child Protection
27 August 2007 at 12:24 pm
The Australian Council of Social Services ACOSS has given evidence to the Senate Committee on the Social Security and Indigenous child protection legislation saying that the proposals do not focus on proven and effective interventions to protect children and families.
ACOSS Executive Director Andrew Johnson says child neglect is a serious issue and Australia must not waste the resources, opportunity and good will on untested interventions.
Johnson says there is no evidence to support the premise of the proposed legislation that restricting finances, removing the right to appeal and the removal of land ownership enables people to tackle drug and alcohol problems, or helps increase school attendance or ultimately protect children and their families.
ACOSS President, Lin Hatfield Dodds told the inquiry that ‘quarantining’ of payments is not a silver-bullet strategy that has been somehow overlooked. Families in crisis need support and services to enable them to deal with their problems, not punitive approaches that risk stigmatising them.
ACOSS says it knows that the quarantining of welfare payments to some parents in the rest of Australia will not support them to address the underlying causes of the failure of children to attend school.
It says these families face human and social problems, and blunt financial measures will not assist people to deal with these problems.
In the Hearing ACOSS says it appeared that large amounts of money would go to bureaucrats rather than proven and effective programs to protect children and that the Minister would have overwhelming powers over the family budgets of disadvantaged Australians.
ACVOSS says the Combined Aboriginal Organisations of the Northern Territory have analysed the proven and effective programs that protect children and provide the longer term tools to support Indigenous families and communities. These programs should be better supported and rolled out across communities in the NT.
It says effective and proven programs do not involve the removal of the affected communities’ ability to engage with decision makers, the removal of permits and land ownership or the suspension of the Racial Discrimination Act.