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Farewell to a skilled and passionate advocate for Aboriginal children and young people

Inaugural Commissioner for Aboriginal Children and Young People Andrew Jackomos ends his term on 31 January 2018.

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Inaugural Commissioner for Aboriginal Children and Young People, and respected Yorta Yorta/Gunditjmara man, Andrew Jackomos PSM, ends his term on 31 January 2018.

During his tenure, Andrew has driven transformational reforms to policy and practice that seek to reverse the unacceptable overrepresentation of Aboriginal children in our child protection and youth justice systems.

As a passionate advocate and educator, Andrew has been instrumental in furthering community understanding of the importance, and inherent right, of Koori children maintaining strong cultural connections to promote their safety, resilience, wellbeing and sense of identity. He has strengthened collaboration and trust as an honest broker between government, community organisations and the Aboriginal community, while demonstrating the importance of self-determination and community-led initiatives in supporting Aboriginal families.

Andrew can be proud of his role in driving many great achievements, including the establishment of the Victorian Aboriginal Children and Young People’s Alliance and the Aboriginal Children’s Forum. The Aboriginal Children’s Forum represents the first time that Aboriginal community-controlled organisations from across Victoria have been invited to participate in collaborative policy development, with the mainstream community sector and government, to improve safety and wellbeing for vulnerable Koori children and families.

Andrew led two landmark inquiries: In the child’s best interests  and Always was always will be Koori children. He also led the collaborative ‘Taskforce 1000’ initiative during which, in partnership with the Department of Health and Human Services, he examined the treatment of almost 1000 Aboriginal children in out-of-home care and exposed some appalling truths.

These various inquiries revealed that Victoria’s child protection services are failing to provide safe and culturally appropriate placements for Koori children in out-of-home care, and that Victorian agencies are not complying with legislative requirements intended to avoid the loss of identity and cultural connectedness that occurred under Stolen Generation policies. These inquiries were the catalyst for game-changing reforms currently being rolled out that will lead to all Aboriginal children in out-of-home care being case-managed by Aboriginal community organisations, rather than government or mainstream agencies, by 2021.

Andrew’s voice has also been central in highlighting the unacceptable overrepresentation of Aboriginal children and young people in the youth justice system and the importance of ensuring cultural safety and connectedness for Koori children in detention. His work was recognised by the report of the Royal Commission into Child Protection and Youth Detention in the Northern Territory, which recommended the appointment of an Aboriginal Children’s Commissioner in that jurisdiction.

Andrew’s achievements as Australia’s first Commissioner for Aboriginal Children and Young People are testament to the importance of the role and the need for similar positions to be established in each state and territory. It is pleasing to see that other jurisdictions, such as South Australia, appear set to follow Victoria’s lead in establishing the role of Commissioner for Aboriginal Children.

It is with great sadness that we farewell Andrew, whose contribution to self-determination of Aboriginal communities is being recognised in his new role as Special Advisor on Self-Determination to the Victorian Secretaries Board.

Andrew begins his new role on 1 February 2018. The search for a new Commissioner for Aboriginal Children and Young People is underway. The Commission for Children and Young People looks forward to working with the incoming Commissioner to continue the vital work Andrew has so ably begun.

Liana Buchanan
Commissioner for Children and Young People

Andrew Jackomos will not be available for media interviews.