Thank you to everyone who attended the 5th Child Aware Approaches Conference in Brisbane last week to discuss ways that we can work together to improve the safety and wellbeing of Australia’s children. I wish to thank all our speakers and supporters, in particular, the Australian Government Department of Social Services and the Queensland Government.
The strong desire amongst delegates to find ways to make the nation a place where all children grow up safe and well was palpable. I saw this in so many vibrant presentations and interactive discussions that highlighted innovative ways of working with children and families.
To give you a taste of that rich variety, Commissioner for Aboriginal Children and Young People (Victoria), Andrew Jackomos, and Fleur Smith from SNAICC – National Voice for our Children showcased how the Family Matters initiative was galvanising attention around the nation about the need to tackle urgently the massive over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out of home care. Professor Ngiare Brown delivered an inspirational Families Australia Oration, highlighting so passionately the key challenges facing many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
Natalie Lewis from the Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Protection Peak (QATSICPP) talked about the vital importance of truly hearing and responding to young people in program and policy design and delivery. Professor Brigid Daniel critically examined Scotland’s experiences in developing a national approach to children (Getting it right for every child’). (I continue to ask: should we also aspire to a similar national approach for Australia?).
Professor Keith Kaufman from the USA focused our attention on ways to foster robust and responsive child-safe organisations. Professor Frank Oberklaid spoke to the importance of prevention and early intervention approaches, of the neuroscience around early childhood development, and on the importance of united action.
Families Australia was again proud to convene this gathering as its way of furthering the national conversation around child safety and wellbeing. I wish to pay tribute to the Board and staff for their leadership and commitment and to my colleagues on the National Coalition on Child Safety and Wellbeing.
Thank you especially to the staff, alumni and students of Griffith University’s School of Human Services and Social Work, under the leadership of Professor Patrick O’Leary. Griffith University is a much-valued research partner.
Presentations from the 2017 conference will be uploaded to the Child Aware website in the coming weeks: www.childaware.org.au
Dr Brian Babington
23 May 2017