Victoria needs a new children’s advocate

A new champion of Aboriginal children is to be appointed in Victoria after Andrew Jackomos last week stepped down as the state’s Commissioner for Aboriginal Children and Young People.

Mr Jackomos left the position five months short of serving a five-year term in the role. He was the first person to hold the title.

A Yorta Yorta/Gunditjmara man, Mr Jackomos has taken up a new position with the Victorian Department of Premier and Cabinet as a special adviser for self-determination.

Mr Jackomos could not be reached for comment by the National Indigenous Times.

No deadline has been set for the appointment of his replacement, a Victorian government spokesperson said.

In October 2016 a report by Mr Jackomos found Victorian child protection services had failed Aboriginal children as the number being placed in out-of-home care escalated to crisis point.

The ‘Always Was Always Will be Koori Children’ report found that from 2013 to 2015, there was a 59 percent rise in the number of Aboriginal children placed in care.

Aboriginal children were also disproportionately removed from their homes — of the 8567 Victorian children in care in June 2015, 17.6 percent were Aboriginal despite Aboriginal people accounting for less than one percent of the state’s population, the report found.

In a statement last week, the state’s Labor government said it was working to implement recommendations from Mr Jackomos’ reports.

Mr Jackomos announced in August he would not seek reappointment as commissioner when his term finished on June 30. He has stepped down five months early.

“Serving as the Commissioner has by far been the most humbling and the most important position I have ever undertaken,” he said in a statement at the time.

“Needless to say it has been the most challenging and emotionally draining as one should expect.”

Wendy Caccetta

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