Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2022 Week 05 Hansard (Wednesday, 1 June 2022) . . Page.. 1462 ..
Further, recommendation 7 calls for an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children’s commissioner, with the capacity to specifically intervene and engage in child protection processes. We still do not have this commissioner either. Instead, Labor and the Greens have, for the time being, determined to employ an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families advocate, who will not have the capacity to intervene and engage in child protection processes. Even then, the listing for this position appears to have opened only three weeks ago.
A policy that exists on paper but not in reality is not what reconciliation looks like; neither is a toothless advocate in place of a commissioner with actual powers. Minister Stephen-Smith has this morning expressed her disappointment with past federal governments. On behalf of many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Canberrans, I express my disappointment in the current ACT government in general, and specifically in Ms Stephen-Smith in her role as Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs. She should stop pointing her finger at other people and look at herself and what she can do as a minister. I encourage her to follow her own advice: be brave, make change. She should stop giving us a word salad, and act. Anything less than this is a waste of space and time for someone in a position of power. Thank you.
MS DAVIDSON (Murrumbidgee—Assistant Minister for Families and Community Services, Minister for Disability, Minister for Justice Health, Minister for Mental Health and Minister for Veterans and Seniors) (11.28): “Be Brave, Make Change” is a very fitting theme for this year’s Reconciliation Week, and I thank Minister Stephen-Smith for her statement. We need to be brave to listen to hard truths about where we could have done better. This includes the impact of bias and discrimination, putting up barriers to accessing the services people need, or making it harder for people to advocate for themselves or for our community understanding intergenerational trauma.
And once we have listened to those hard truths, making change requires action. This week the service provider for a new Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander suicide prevention, intervention, postvention and aftercare program has been appointed. Thirrili is an Aboriginal community-controlled organisation with experience delivering these services in other parts of Australia. It will provide case support for individuals and families and build community resilience. Thirrili has been a leading national provider of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander postvention support services since 2017. It will engage with the ACT’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to build a service development plan that fits our local needs.
I am very pleased that Thirrili will work with local aftercare service The Way Back Support Service, delivered by Woden Community Services. This partnership between an Aboriginal community-controlled organisation and a local service provider will provide referral pathways so that people can access the service that best meets their needs and supports greater understanding of the ways these services can be provided across our community. Having a service that is culturally safe and designed and led by Aboriginal people whose professional expertise is recognised and respected would not have been possible without the work of the ACT Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander