The West

Call for shift in youth policies
Call for change: Ted Wilkes, Fiona Stanley and Dennis Egginton. Picture: Mogens Johansen/The West Australian

Early childhood specialist Fiona Stanley has called for a fundamental shift in government policy to arrest rates of juvenile imprisonment and save children from neglectful homes.

Read the opinion piece by Fiona Stanley, Ted Wilkes and Dennis Eggington in THE WEST AUSTRALIAN today |

The former Australian of the Year said the "juggernaut of spending" on Aboriginal people was wasted because it did not focus on prevention and engage families in the delivery of services.

Professor Stanley said she disagreed with Police Commissioner Karl O'Callaghan's call at the weekend for more children to be removed from their parents.

"People want us to move on from the Stolen Generations but you can't," she said.

"In our research, every adverse outcome including crime, gambling, substance abuse, mental health problems, low birth weight were all higher in the group that had a history of forced removal from parents.

"We are looking at the second, third and even fourth-generation effects of removal."

Professor Stanley has thrown her support behind Aboriginal leaders who want a coalition of indigenous agencies to implement family intervention programs and run their own hostels and rehabilitation centres.

In an opinion piece in The West Australian today, co-authored by Ted Wilkes and Dennis Eggington, Professor Stanley urged the Government to fund a test of Aboriginal social programs in Perth's southern suburbs.

"I responded to the call of these Aboriginal leaders to support their solutions to the problems," she said.

"There are Aboriginal solutions that are absolutely evidence based and more humane and cost-effective.

"That, to me, is the only way this is going to be done.

"It is about putting the Aboriginal families in the middle and surrounding them with all the resources to prevent these problem trajectories that Karl has been talking about and even when the kids are going off the rails, to remediate and rehabilitate.

"We have got a juggernaut of spending that is wasted because Aboriginal people are not appropriately engaged with the solutions.

"When Aboriginal people are engaged with the solutions, not only do they work but the self- esteem within the Aboriginal community rises because people are proud and that affects things like adolescent suicide and mental health."

The West Australian

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