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Howard government fails Indigenous children.

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Senator Kerry O’Brien Shadow Minister for Reconciliation and Indigenous Affairs Senator Jacinta Collins Shadow Minister for Children and Youth

26 February 2004


A new report by the United Nation’s children’s agency UNICEF has found that Indigenous Australian children are among the most marginalised in the world.

UNICEF notes that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children do not enjoy the same standards of living and levels of service as other Australians and reminds the Australian Government of its binding obligations to Indigenous children under domestic and international law.

The UNICEF report, released overnight, highlights:

• Infant mortality rates for Indigenous Australian infants three times higher than the overall rate • Life expectancy at birth for Indigenous Australians up to 20 years less than that for other Australians • The rate of Indigenous Australian children in out-of-home care

over six times the rate for other Australian children • The incarceration of Indigenous women at a higher rate than any other group in Australia exposing Indigenous children to

neglect, abuse, hunger and homelessness • The “unjustified, disproportionately high” percentage of Aboriginal children in the juvenile justice system

UNICEF acknowledges the efforts of many Indigenous Australian community workers and organisations, including Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations, to improve services to Indigenous children.

Federal Labor recognises the right of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children to enjoy their culture, religion and language in concert with their right to enjoy standards of health, education and protection that other Australians take for granted.

This latest international report card finds that Australia is failing to uphold

its legal and moral obligations to Indigenous children.

The report is further proof that the Howard Government’s empty commitment to so-called ‘practical’ reconciliation is failing Australia.