This week Mission Australia issued a deeply disturbing report about life satisfaction amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young peoples. 1,162 young people identifying as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and aged between 15-19 years were surveyed in Mission Australia’s 2015 Youth Survey. According to the survey, one in 10 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young men reported happiness levels at zero out of 10 as did 5% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young women. These figures stand in stark contrast to the comparable rates for non-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people which is reported to be 1%.
In his introduction to the report, Professor Tom Calma AO, Chancellor of the University of Canberra, and Co-chair of Reconciliation Australia, stated that ‘Our young people have to see they have a future and they need access to mental health and alcohol and drug services and suicide prevention programs and vulnerable communities must be empowered and supported to lead their own recovery.’
This report comes a week after an important gathering outside Parliament House Canberra to coincide with the commencement of the 45th Australian Parliament. This gathering of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders, including all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander MPs and Senators, highlighted the importance of supporting the June 2016 Redfern Statement which contains the following words:
“We are here today, the 9th of June 2016, in Redfern where in 1992 Prime Minister Paul Keating spoke truth about this nation – that the disadvantage faced by First Peoples affects and is the responsibility of all Australians.
We stand here as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peak representative organisations with a deep concern:
that in 2016 First Peoples continue to experience unacceptable disadvantage;
that the challenges confronting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people continue to be isolated to the margins of the national debate;
that Federal Government policies continue to be made for and to, rather than with, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people; and
that the transformative opportunities for Government action are yet to be grasped.
Stand with us to let this statement and call for Government action be heard and acted upon by our nation’s leaders. “
Families Australia is proud to support the Redfern Statement. We support all those who work to overcome disadvantage and marginalisation amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
We continue to call on all Australian Governments to redouble their efforts to meet the Closing the Gap goals, especially for children and young people through better service delivery and family support measures.
Dr Brian Babington
7 September 2016