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The Commissioner for Aboriginal Children and Young People and the Koori Advisory and Engagement team (KAE) lead and support the work of the Commission to address the over-representation of Aboriginal children and young people in the child protection and out-of-home care and youth justice systems. Our work reflects the Commission’s strategic plan for 2019–22, in particular, the key outcome:
The experience of Aboriginal children and young people is free of systemic and institutional racism.
How we will know if we are achieving this?
- the number, rate and proportion of Aboriginal children in out-of-home care are reduced
- the number, rate and proportion of Aboriginal children and young people in the youth justice system, and particularly in youth justice custody, are reduced
- there is improved compliance with legislated principles relating to Aboriginal children including the Aboriginal Child Placement Principle and the requirements for cultural support plans
- organisations in and outside government act to address systemic and institutional racism
- self-determination is a driving consideration in child protection policies and practices with regard to Aboriginal children.
Commissioner for Aboriginal Children and Young People
Aboriginal lawyer and advocate Meena Singh leads the Commission’s engagement with Aboriginal communities as the state’s third Commissioner for Aboriginal Children and Young People, having commenced this role in April 2022.
Commissioner Singh, a Yorta Yorta woman, brings a wealth of skills and experience to this critical role – including as a Victoria Legal Aid lawyer representing children and young people in child protection and youth justice, together with multiple roles of key relevance to the Commission’s work, including with the Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service, Human Rights Law Centre, and Aboriginal family violence support service, Djirra.
Complementing Commissioner Singh’s extensive legal experience with marginalised Aboriginal people are deep connections with Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations, and involvement in prominent strategic advocacy campaigns, including to raise the age of criminal responsibility to at least 14.
Koori Advisory and Engagement Team
The Koori Advisory and Engagement (KAE) team supports the Commissioner for Aboriginal Children and Young People. The KAE team:
- engages with Aboriginal children and young people, families, and communities about the issues that affect them
- provides policy advice to government, advocating for practices that promote self-determination and cultural connection
- conducts inquiries to improve services to Aboriginal children and young people
- monitors conditions for Aboriginal children and young people in out-of-home care, the child protection system and the youth justice system.
The KAE team also plays a key leadership and advocacy role for the Commission in various representative capacities that influence or have the potential to impact the rights, opportunities and experiences of Aboriginal children and young people. This includes representation and participation in a range of key forums, working groups and strategic partnership arrangements including the Aboriginal Children’s Forum and the Aboriginal Justice Forum.