It’s Gotta Go Back To Community
Dr Elise Hilder, CREATE Foundation
“It’s so different to see kids who go back and connect with country; it’s a different lens, it’s organic and beautiful, and you can see it change kids. We don’t see it happen in care. There shouldn’t be any difference; if we can celebrate it at home with our families why can’t we do it in care?” (Young Person, SA Submission Discussion Group)
Voices at the Top was the theme for this year’s SNAICC conference on Larrakia Country in Darwin. Young Consultant Brooke Oliver, a proud Kaurna woman, joined me to present a snapshot of a recent inquiry into First Nations removals and placement in South Australia.
The inquiry was spearheaded by April Lawrie, SA Commissioner for Aboriginal Children and Young People, and focused on how the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Placement Principle is applied in the removal and placement of Aboriginal children in out-of-home care.
Brooke initially took part in the inquiry through submission discussion groups in which she helped facilitate and create a safe space for CREATE’s young people to have a yarn. The voices of young people at these sessions then directly informed CREATE’s submission.
Attending SNAICC’s biggest conference to date in September, Brooke and I had a big audience to impress but Brooke was fierce, honest, and impassioned; by the closing of her speech there were cheers, whistles, and a thank you shouted across the auditorium.
Brooke spoke of her own lived experience in the OOHC system in South Australia before presenting a call to action. Importantly, she also highlighted the importance of her presence (“a government kid”) at this year’s conference. Brooke was only one of a few young people actually presenting, setting a precedent for future young people to take the stage. Brooke certainly inspired the audience; her voice was deadly and definitely AT THE TOP.
CALL TO ACTION
- Every Aboriginal child and young person in care having a Nunga/Aboriginal Social Worker and Cultural mentors;
- Healing camps on country with Elders/Aboriginal workers and families;
- Be led by Grandmother’s Lore;
- Children and family voices in decision making;
- Maintaining contact with community and families;
- Reunifications where possible;
- Practicing Deep Listening;
- Removal of residential care (“Resi care needs to be obsolete – it’s traumatised kids traumatising others”); and
- Aboriginal leads within the roles of ministers and throughout the Department.