Tangentyere Council has called on the Royal Commission into Youth Detention to make sure they hear directly from the services and families at the front line of service delivery to Aboriginal families in the Northern Territory.
Tangentyere CEO Walter Shaw said the voices of people with direct experience of the child protection and youth detentions systems must be clearly heard at first hand.
“Aboriginal people living on town camps don’t need anyone to speak for us,” Mr Shaw said.
“We need to speak straight to the Royal Commissioners so they hear our stories in our words and our voices.
“While it’s important that leaders and peak bodies present their evidence, it is even more important that the mums and dads, aunties and uncles and grandparents get to tell their stories to the Royal Commission.
“Members of the Tangentyere Executive live these experiences with the child protection and youth detention systems every day and they want to be able to tell it straight.”
Mr Shaw said it was important the Royal Commission heard evidence from front line service providers about what programs had been working and the impact of widespread funding cuts.
“For example, Tangentyere runs a range of services aimed at young people in Alice Springs – everything from recreation programs to safe houses to youth patrols.
“We have wide experience in delivering diversion and restorative justice programs but programs have had funding cut or exist in an environment of uncertainty.
“Tangentyere was running effective youth camps, that the Government likes to call boot camps, diverting children from the criminal justice system.
“But the funding was cut.
“Our Access to Education program, designed and supported by Town Camp residents to increase school attendance and improve education outcomes had to be significantly pared back after Federal funding cutbacks.
“Our Safe House that cares for Aboriginal children in out of home care is under threat and currently operating unfunded because the NT Department of Children and Families is trying to hold us to ransom.
“The out of home care system in the Northern Territory is failing Aboriginal children and families by not adequately resourcing kinship care.
“Under-resourced youth services and a failing child protection system lead to more children in detention.
“Town Campers know what works for their children and families. We just want the Royal Commissioners to listen.”