ACT Council of Social Service Inc.

Justice | Equity | Social Inclusion | Reconciliation

Media Release: ACTCOSS welcomes the launch of Close the Gap Campaign Report 2021

18 March 2021

The ACT Council of Social Service (ACTCOSS) today welcomed the launch of the Close the Gap Campaign Report 2021 - Leadership and Legacy through Crisis: Keeping Our Mob Safe which highlights both the strength and resilience of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander communities in responding to the immense public health and climate challenges posed by 2020, and the ongoing systemic and structural barriers they face.

Dr Emma Campbell, ACTCOSS CEO said: “ACTCOSS advocates for self-determination by Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander communities in Canberra and calls for increased funding for Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations.

“Greater investment will allow Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander community-controlled health and wellbeing services to expand on the work they are doing to create better outcomes for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander communities.  

“There are many service gaps. We need to design and construct a community-controlled Aboriginal residential alcohol and other drugs rehabilitation facility to support families and divert people away from the justice system. This would be a step towards addressing the vast overrepresentation of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people in the ACT justice system.

“Another area of woeful overrepresentation is that of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander children in out-of-home care,” Dr Campbell said.

The Productivity Commission’s Report on Government Services 2021 revealed that in the ACT the rate of Indigenous children in out-of-home care was over 72 per 1,000 children aged 0-17 years, the highest rate in the nation and fourteen times higher than the rate for non-Indigenous children.

“Fully implementing the 28 recommendations in the Our Booris, Our Way review would improve long-term outcomes for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander children.

“One of the key recommendations in the Close the Gap Campaign Report 2021 is raising the age of criminal responsibility from 10 to 14 years old, and ACTCOSS commends the ACT Government for its commitment to legislating this.

“The report also highlighted the need for effective partnerships between mainstream service providers and Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander communities and organisations. The onus lies with mainstream service providers to ensure that they are aware of the limitations of their knowledge and resources; are providing culturally safe and accessible services for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander communities; and are not only seeking feedback from Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander communities and organisations but also implementing it.

"ACTCOSS must play its role in supporting our member organisations to develop and improve upon good, culturally appropriate practice standards,” Dr Campbell concluded.

ACTCOSS advocates for social justice in the ACT and represents not-for-profit community organisations.

For more information or comment, please contact
Dr Emma Campbell, CEO, ACTCOSS, on 0424 910 617 or 02 6202 7200.