The First Nations Advisory College joins with the National Centre for Action on Child Sexual Abuse (National Centre) in strongly condemning recent calls for a Royal Commission into child sexual abuse in First Nations communities.
Recent evidence from the Australian Child Maltreatment Study clearly shows that child sexual abuse is a national issue that affects all Australians, regardless of their race, religion, socioeconomic status, education, family background or location. Currently, 1 in 4 young Australians between the ages of 16-24 have experienced child sexual abuse; the overall national prevalence of child sexual abuse is 28.5%. This constitutes a national emergency, and all of us – non-partisan government, organisations, communities, and individuals – must work together to be part of the solution.
First Nations communities across Australia continue to uphold cultural care principles for Country and for kin. There is strong evidence for cultural determinants of strong and safe families. Against structural oppression and discrimination, communities hold solutions for strong and safe families. Singling out First Nations people on the issue of child sexual abuse is damaging and misleading. It causes further harm.
The First Nations College (College) is one of three foundational colleges of the National Centre. Co-chaired by the CEO of the Healing Foundation, Shannan Dodson, and Executive Officer Tash Brunhuber, members of the College provide insights including feedback from their communities regarding experiences, victim-survivor support practice and service access to inform the strategy and activities of the National Centre.
Speaking on behalf of the First Nations College, Co-Chair, Tash Brunhuber said:
“It is extremely disheartening to hear our communities being spoken about in Parliament as perpetrators to the extent they have been recently. Many communities are still feeling the effects of the Northern Territory intervention, which also demonised our families in a misleading and dangerous way. The College and National Centre proudly seek out and respond to evidence, data and truth telling. We look to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peak bodies like SNAICC and their members who have unparalleled experience with the safety of our children, and stand with them in their calls for evidence-based responses, and the rejection of those that further victimise First Nations families.”
CEO of the National Centre, Dr Leanne Beagley said:
“The National Centre and the College proudly stand with the Healing Foundation and SNAICC – National Voice for Children and a coalition of over 131 other organisations and individuals who instead call for a National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commissioner, with legislated power to investigate and make recommendations on issues impacting First Nations children.”
As Australians, we must ensure that all children within every community are adequately cared for and safe, and all victims and survivors of child sexual abuse are supported to heal and recover without stigma and shame.
This where we must focus our efforts. United. Together.