How many babies who experience serious hardships in their first year of life have delayed communication skills?
The Berry Street Take Two team based in Bendigo in the Loddon region of Victoria were worried about this. They welcomed a speech pathologist to work with them for more than a year, as part of Take Two’s Communication Project to help understand the scale of the problem.
Aboriginal children today are twenty times more likely to be homeless, receive over 30% less financial support, face a life expectancy 20 years lower than that of non-Aboriginal children, and they are more likely to experience disability, ill health, and a reduced quality of life.
Despite all of that, Muriel reminded us that this data doesn’t tell us about the good things happening in Aboriginal communities and spoke of the successes in culture andsport of indigenous people like singer Jessica Mauboy, AFL star Buddy Franklin & NRL star Jonathan Thurston.
"When asked to draw what makes them feel safe, over 85% of Aboriginal children draw the Aboriginal flag" – Muriel Bamblett #GCConf
Muriel shared that building Aboriginal culture into everything VACCA do is crucial, and that after their safety, the most important thing to establish in an Aboriginal child’s life is culture and cultural safety.
How can we help provide an environment which respects that culture around us?
In 2007, Ampe Akelyernemane Meke Mekarle – or the Little Children Are Sacred Report – exposed the complexity and shame of sexual abuse of Aboriginal children in the Northern Territory.
Constant media focus on child abuse in the NT followed. Daily reports in The Australian newspaper and nightly stories on ABC’s Lateline.
They covered, paedophile rings, chronic neglect, kids sniffing petrol, kids roaming the streets day and night and the sexual abuse of kids, including kids abusing other kids. All fueled by a daily diet of pornography and alcohol.
Shocking, awful stuff. Hard to digest, hard to think about and harder to know where to start. But, in time, easy to ignore.
With the 2007 Federal Election looming, the NT intervention was announced in response to this ‘national emergency’.
Just after another election, it’s a good time to ask – has childhood improved for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children?
I’m not sure.
Media stories of neglect and abuse continue. Negative images of Aboriginal kids and families dominate.