The time is now to overhaul the systems which continue to force Victorian Aboriginal people into cycles of poverty and homelessness
The Aboriginal Housing and Homelessness Forum (AHHF) backs the truth telling Yoorrook Justice Commission’s 46 recommendations on reforming Victoria’s child protection and criminal justice systems, arguing that safe and secure housing has a major role to play in breaking cycles of disadvantage.
Commissioner Sue-Anne Hunter said the present-day failures of Victoria’s child protection and criminal justice systems for Aboriginal people are still “deeply rooted” in the colonial foundations of the state.
The report highlights the truths we see every day in the Aboriginal housing and homelessness space:
- Aboriginal children are removed from their families at the highest rate in Australia with one in 10 now in out of home care. When Aboriginal children go into out of home care, their risk of experiencing homelessness post care is dramatically increased.
- In the justice system Aboriginal people are around 15 times more likely to be in adult prison. The absence of safe, affordable housing both increases the likelihood of coming into contact with the justice system in the first place and an increased likelihood post release recidivism.
- Victorian bail law changes of 2013 and 2018 are linked to a 560 percent increase in the number of Aboriginal people entering prison unsentenced.
- The flow on effects of these laws have meant more children have wound up in the child protection system, and without housing people have been denied bail, continuing cycles of incarceration and dispossession.
- If we house and support young people exiting out of home care, building their life skills so they do not become the next generation of parents to have their children removed, we may see change within a generation.
“Aboriginal people in Victoria are experiencing contact with homelessness services at more than 10 times the rate of other Victorians – the AHHF backs calls for child protection and criminal justice systems to be self-determined because we know what our people need,” AHHF Chair and Aboriginal Housing Victoria CEO Darren Smith said.
“We need more control. We need self-determination. We urge the Victorian Government to act on the Yoorrook Justice Commission’s recommendations on our path towards Treaty.”