The Alliance acknowledges the impetus for the call for a Royal Commission, as the Minister of Health Martin Foley points out, the current system is failing Victorians. This is no more the case than within Victoria’s Aboriginal communities, where an individualistic, clinical, pathologising and siloed mental health and child protection system is failing to ensure the social and emotional wellbeing of Aboriginal children, young people, families and communities. But hope remains, and with the recent reforms in Victoria’s child and family services space, Aboriginal communities are driving change.
The Alliance recommends that the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health system reinforces the role of self-determination and wellbeing of Aboriginal people in Victoria, and also recognise and the importance of the aspirations set in the Victorian Aboriginal Affairs Framework, Korin Korin Balit-Djak, Wungurilwil Gapgapduir and Balit Murrup.
Invest in flexible early intervention, prevention and family strengthening models at Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations (ACCOs) through funding that is flexible, long term and outcomes based, and give greater responsibility to ACCOs to oversee the implementation of cultural plans..
In the context of a model of Aboriginal Health and Wellbeing and child protection, early intervention and prevention requires addressing the drivers behind the need for child protection involvement and the severe overrepresentation of Aboriginal children in OOHC.
Resource ACCOs to develop and enable the implementation of cultural support plans for every Aboriginal child and young person in out of home care which includes a Return to Country cultural support worker, cultural support persons/Aboriginal mentors, access to genealogy records and services, and socialisation/recreational activities with other young Aboriginal people.
The overrepresentation of Aboriginal children removed from their families is reaching crisis point. Aboriginal children and young people with experiences of OOHC could be the most vulnerable population in the nation to mental illness and suicide. Yet, despite their overrepresentation in the system, there has been little investigation into the longitudinal effects on childhood removal and OOHC on the social and emotional wellbeing of Aboriginal children and young people.
Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation Inc. 2019