Date: 
Thursday 8 March 2018

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner June Oscar is marking International Women’s Day with Indigenous women and girls in South Australia, for the Wiyi Yani U Thangani (Women’s Voices) project.

Commissioner Oscar said the Wiyi Yani U Thangani project represents the first consultations in 30 years with First Nations women and girls about their strengths and aspirations and about the challenges and issues they face.

This week, Commissioner Oscar has met with women and girls in the remote community of Yalata, Ceduna and in Adelaide.

“From our remote communities to our urban centres, I am strongly encouraging all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and girls to come together and take part in this important project.

“This is a great opportunity to elevate the needs and voices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and girls in the national policy landscape.”

Over the next 12 months, Commissioner Oscar will be travelling to more than 30 locations, including the Northern Territory where serious issues about child welfare continue to be raised.

“As a community we all carry a responsibility to ensure our children are safe and that the systems to protect vulnerable children are working.

“I echo the concerns expressed by Indigenous leaders working with communities in the NT about the need for caution when responding to this very complex issue.

“We need a public health approach that invests in communities and families and provides support to families to address disadvantage so that the system is in early prevention rather than crisis mode. 

“It’s also important we respond on a case by case basis. A blanket approach to child welfare does not work and we have decades of statistics to prove it.

“I am hearing very clearly in my talks with women and girls, a strong desire to be involved in the decisions that affect the lived realities of our communities.

“We cannot continue to paint Aboriginal culture in a deficit light that constantly frames our communities as the problem. We have great strength in our culture and we must draw on that when we are addressing these complex social issues such as child safety.

“Our children are our most precious resources and we must work all work harder to break the cycle of disadvantage to give them a better life,” Commissioner Oscar said