First Commissioner for Aboriginal Children Steps Down
1 February 2018 at 8:30 am
Indigenous organisations have hailed Australia’s first commissioner for Aboriginal children a “fearless advocate” as he steps down from the role.
Andrew Jackomos, the inaugural Victorian commissioner for Aboriginal children and young people, stepped down on Wednesday after five years in the job.
The Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO) and the Victorian Aboriginal Children and Young People’s Alliance (VACYP Alliance) praised Jackomos for the “enormous impact” he had.
VACYP Alliance chairperson Michael Bell said they were sad to see him go.
“Mr Jackomos’ appointment as inaugural commissioner was a momentous and exciting time for our communities and families,” Bell said.
“We are sad to see his term come to an end but we know his undeniable focus on our children will not end.
“Mr Jackomos challenged the sector to take greater responsibility for Aboriginal children and young people, he was a fearless advocate in his role as commissioner, and always focused us on the importance of connection to culture as a protective factor.”
— CCYP Victoria (@CCYPVictoria) January 29, 2018
VACCHO CEO Ian Hamm said a notable achievement during Jackomos’ term had been Taskforce 1000, which brought about positive changes in the relationships between Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations (ACCOs) and the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).
“We know from his commissioner reports that Aboriginal children are 10 times more likely to be in care than non-Aboriginal children,” Hamm said.
“It is critical we continue the work started by Mr Jackomos and get right the shift to Aboriginal Children in Aboriginal Care, reducing the chance of another stolen generation of our people, albeit in different form.
“The VACYP Alliance and VACCHO will continue to ensure government and key stakeholders hear the voice of not only Aboriginal children, but the inclusion of local Aboriginal communities in policy and program design and delivery to improve safety and well-being for vulnerable Koori children and families… [and] we eagerly await and welcome the appointment of the next Aboriginal children’s commissioner and look forward to working closely with them.”
Liana Buchanan, the commissioner for children and young people, said Jackomos could be proud of driving many great achievements during his tenure in the role.
“[This includes] the establishment of the Victorian Aboriginal Children and Young People’s Alliance and the Aboriginal Children’s Forum. The Aboriginal Children’s Forum represents the first time that Aboriginal community-controlled organisations from across Victoria have been invited to participate in collaborative policy development, with the mainstream community sector and government, to improve safety and wellbeing for vulnerable Koori children and families,” Buchanan said.
“Andrew’s voice has also been central in highlighting the unacceptable overrepresentation of Aboriginal children and young people in the youth justice system and the importance of ensuring cultural safety and connectedness for Koori children in detention.
“Andrew’s achievements as Australia’s first commissioner for Aboriginal children and young people are testament to the importance of the role and the need for similar positions to be established in each state and territory.”
Farewell & thank you to retiring Commissioner for Aboriginal Children & Young People @andrewjackomos – over the past five years you've given a voice to young people in care & been a tenacious champion in the pursuit of better lives for Aboriginal kids. https://t.co/kJRAFAoZ9y
— Anglicare Victoria (@AnglicareVic) January 31, 2018
The Victorian Andrews Labor government thanked Jackomos for his work and dedication in the role, and lauded his “significant contribution in improving the lives of Aboriginal children and young people”.
The Victorian Minister for Families and Children Jenny Mikakos, praised Jackomos for his important role in the implementation of the government’s Roadmap for Reform package, which aimed to give Indigenous people responsibility for the decision-making and care of Aboriginal children and families.
“Andrew has been tireless in his work as commissioner for Aboriginal children and young people, highlighting significant issues and forging a path for improved outcomes for young people for many years to come,” Mikakos said.
“Andrew’s work will continue to benefit Aboriginal Victorians and the broader community – we thank him for his dedication and continued service to Aboriginal people.”
Mikakos said the government was working to implement recommendations from Jackomos’ reports into the child protection system’s application of the Aboriginal child placement principle.
On Thursday, Jackomos will begin a new role as the special adviser for self-determination, within the Department of Premier and Cabinet.
A recruitment process to appoint a new commissioner for aboriginal children and young people will commence shortly.