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Call for SA Aboriginal kids commissioner

AAP logoAAP 24/10/2016

South Australia should have a children's commissioner specifically focused on the state's Aboriginal kids, the head of welfare group Anglicare SA says.

CEO Peter Sandeman says the passing of legislation last week to establish a commissioner for children in SA should be complemented by an Aboriginal Children's Co-commissioner role.

"This will help amplify the voice of Aboriginal children and communities and enable a targeted response to the specific cultural, systemic and geographical challenges facing Aboriginal children in care," he said.

Speaking to a seminar looking at the recent recommendations from SA's royal commissioner into child protection, Mr Sandeman said Anglicare believed some Aboriginal leaders should be granted exceptions to mandatory reporting laws.

He said Aboriginal families experiencing difficulties do not trust "the welfare", making their relationships with respected leaders particularly important.

"We are not suggesting that Aboriginal families be exempt from the current or any future reporting system, or that the severity of some situations would not justify immediate reporting," he said.

"However, past policies, practices and wrongs have created fear and distrust amongst Aboriginal people.

"Aboriginal families are more likely to access assistance and guidance from respected elders and aunties, where they know they are going to be supported, and not reported."

He said identified Aboriginal leaders could also intervene early to help families resolve issues that often lead to children being removed.

Establishing a child commissioner in SA was recommended by the recent royal commission into SA's child protection systems which was prompted by the horrific abuse of young children by government carer Shannon McCoole.

Attorney-General John Rau said the commissioner would be key to SA making a fresh start in children protection.

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