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M E D I A R E L E A S E
29 August 2014
Adelaide forum identifies strategies to stem the soaring number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out-of-home care
A forum in Adelaide on 27 August attended by 170 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community members, practitioners, service providers and researchers in the child welfare sector has identified a number of initiatives to improve South Australia’s child protection system and stem the flow of Indigenous children being removed from their families.
The forum was told that in South Australia, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children make up 3.5 per cent of the child population yet comprise 30 per cent of all children in out-of-home care. The number of Indigenous children in care in SA has tripled in the past decade, from 236 in 2003 to 788 in June 2013.
This disproportionate rate is reflected across the nation, with almost 14,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out-of-home care — representing a staggering 34 per cent of all children in care.
Participants at the Adelaide forum called for an overhaul of the child protection system in South Australia — which is still operating on principles from the 1960s — including a shift in focus from tertiary services to prevention and early intervention services to strengthen the capacity of vulnerable families to keep children safe.
According to participants, this new prevention focus would not necessarily require extra government investment, more a major re-alignment of existing funding. Other measures suggested by participants include:
• the use of family conferencing as soon as possible once a risk or possible risk to children has been identified, to bring service providers and family groups together to discuss issues and make informed decisions
• the need for cultural competence education for social worker students at university so that they gain an understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, including traditional child rearing practices, and an understanding of the impacts of intergenerational trauma on children and families, including past policies of forcible removal
• a simplified system for family members to gain information from government agencies, as well as the creation of an independent tribunal to review child protection decisions and complaints
• more recognition and support for informal kinship care arrangements and the adoption in South Australia of the highly-acclaimed Winangay assessment tool for carers in use in NSW, and more stringent requirements on non-Aboriginal carers to ensure children remain connected with their birth families and culture, and
• the need for alternative and Aboriginal community-controlled residential care models — for example, boarding schools such as the highly successful Worawa College at Healesville, Victoria.
The Adelaide forum is part of a series of state-territory meetings under the Family Matters — Kids in Culture, Not in Care national initiative being driven by SNAICC in partnership with other major child welfare agencies to reduce the alarmingly high rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out-of-home care. Forum partners in South Australia are Aboriginal Family Support Services, the South Australian Council of Social Service, Uniting Communities, and Child and Family Welfare Association.
A community meeting under the Family Matters initiative was held yesterday in Port Augusta to consult on out-of-home care issues in the Port Augusta region and other regional and remote areas of South Australia.
A report on measures and recommendations arising out of the Adelaide and Port Augusta meetings will be available soon from SNAICC. More information on the Family Matters initiative is available at http://www.snaicc.org.au
Frank Hytten, SNAICC CEO, on (0432) 345 652
Gemma Unwin, Family Matters Manager, (0423) 696 880
Giuseppe Stramandinoli, SNAICC Media Officer, (0419) 508 125
“Imagine being able to wake up in a world where there was no separation between any of us — not based on sex, colour, country or economic status. Imagine a world in which we could all hold hands across the planet. That’s what I see as possible if we all chose to come out of judgement of ourselves and each other so we all have permission to just be ourselves.” ~ Richard Sauerman on Soul Sessions
The Fourteen Mindfulness Trainings
These are the Fourteen Mindfulness Trainings of the Order of Interbeing:
- Nonattachment to Views
- Freedom of Thought
- Awareness of Suffering
- Simple, Healthy Living
- Dealing with Anger
- Dwelling Happily in the Present Moment
- Community and Communication
- Truthful and Loving Speech
- Protecting the Sangha
- Right Livelihood
- Reverence for Life
- Right Conduct
Nhat Hanh teaches that, with awareness, you can live your life happily and fully present in each moment intelligently seeking solutions to the problems you face and working for peace in small and large ways. The basis of that awareness lies in the Fourteen Mindfulness Trainings which are:
Since suffering is created by fanaticism and intolerance, you should be determined not to be idolatrous about or bound to any doctrine, theory or ideology, even Buddhist ones. Buddhist teachings are guiding means to help you learn to look deeply and to develop your understanding and compassion. They are not doctrines to fight, kill or die for.
2. Non-attachment to Views
Since attachment to views and wrong perceptions creates suffering, be determined to avoid being narrow-minded and bound to your present views. Be open to others’ insights and experiences. Know that the knowledge you presently possess is not changeless, absolute truth. Be ready to learn throughout your life.
3. Freedom of Thought
Be committed not to force others, even your children, by any means such as authority, threat, money, propaganda or indoctrination, to adopt your views. Respect the right of others to be different and to choose what to believe and how to decide. However, help others renounce fanaticism and narrowness through practising mindfulness and engaging in compassionate dialogue.
4. Awareness of Suffering
Do not close your eyes to suffering but find ways to be with those who suffer, or at least learn of their suffering so you can understand their situation deeply and help them transform their suffering into compassion, peace and joy.
5. Simple, Healthy Living
Since happiness is rooted in peace, solidity, freedom and compassion, and not in wealth or fame, do not take as the aim of your life fame, profit, wealth or sensual pleasure. Live simply and share your time, energy and material resources with those in need. Practise mindful consuming, not using alcohol, drugs or any other products that bring toxins into your own, or the collective, body and consciousness.
6. Dealing with Anger
Anger blocks communication and creates suffering, so when anger arises recognise and transform the seeds of anger that lie deep in your consciousness. When anger comes up, do not do or say anything. Instead, practise mindful breathing or mindful walking and acknowledge, embrace and look deeply into your anger. Learn to look with eyes of compassion at yourself and at those you think are the cause of your anger.
7. Dwelling Happily in the Present Moment
Commit to living deeply each moment of daily life. Don’t be carried away by regrets about the past, worries about the future or craving, anger or jealousy in the present. Instead, practise mindful breathing to come back to what is happening in the present moment.
8. Community and Communication
Lack of communication always brings separation and suffering, so train yourself in the practice of compassionate listening and loving speech. Learn to listen deeply without judging or reacting and refrain from uttering words that can create unhappiness or cause the community to break. Make every effort to keep communications open and to reconcile and resolve all conflicts, however small.
9. Truthful and Loving Speech
Speak truthfully and constructively, using only words that inspire hope and confidence. Do not say untruthful things for the sake of personal interest or to impress people, and don’t say things that might cause division or hatred. Also, do not spread news that we do not definitely know to be true and do not criticise or condemn things of which you are not sure. When you are certain, do your best to speak out about situations of injustice, even when doing so may threaten your own safety.
10. Protect the Sangha
Sangha is a Sanskrit word that refers to the spiritual community. Since the essence and aim of a Buddhist Sangha is the practice of understanding and compassion, aim not to use the Buddhist community for personal gain or profit and do not transform your community into a political instrument. However, a spiritual community should take a clear stand against oppression and injustice and should strive to change the situation without engaging in partisan conflicts.
11. Right Livelihood
Given the violence and injustice that have been done to our environment and society, make a decision to pursue a career that is not harmful to humans and nature. Instead, choose a livelihood that manifests understanding and compassion. Behave responsibly as a consumer and citizen and do not support companies that deprive others of their chance to live or to live a free and happy life.
12. Reverence for Life
Since a lot of sadness and suffering is caused by war and conflict, choose to cultivate non-violence, understanding and compassion in your daily life. Wherever possible, seek to promote peace, education and reconciliation within families, communities, nations and in the world. Be determined not to kill and to not to let others kill. Always look to discover better ways to protect life and prevent war.
Exploitation, social injustice, stealing and oppression cause much suffering in the world. So be committed to cultivating loving kindness and learning ways to work for the wellbeing of people, animals, plants and minerals. Practise generosity by sharing your time, energy and material resources with those who are in need. Never steal and do not allow yourself to possess anything that should belong to others. In all things, respect the property of others and try to prevent others from profiting from human suffering or the suffering of other beings.
14. Right Conduct
People who have not taken vows of celibacy should be aware that sexual relations motivated by craving cannot ease the feeling of loneliness but will create more suffering, frustration and isolation. You should not engage in sexual relations without mutual understanding, love and a long-term commitment. Be aware that to preserve the happiness of yourself and others, you must respect the rights and commitments of yourself and others. Do everything in your power to protect children from sexual abuse and to protect couples and families from being broken by sexual misconduct. Treat your body with respect and preserve your vital energies. Be fully aware of the responsibility of bringing new lives into the world, and meditate on the world into which we are bringing new beings.
Read the full article here: http://www.wellbeing.com.au/article/Features/Wisdom/The-peaceful-way-of-Thich-Nhat-Hanh_1376
Amala Groom is a proud Wiradjuri woman who works across various fields to promote the rights and interests of Aboriginal Peoples in the advancement and implementation of Aboriginal sovereignty and self-determination…
via Amala Groom.