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National Aboriginal and Islander Children’s Day calls for the rights of kids to be protected

The Australian Greens say tomorrow's National Aboriginal and Islander Children's Day (NAICD), reminds us that the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children is still a long way behind that of other kids.

"This year's theme ‘Right Here, Right Now, Our Rights Matter' sends a clear message that we're all responsible for ensuring the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Islander children are protected, that they have the right to be cared for, they have the right to expect the same quality of life as their peers," Senator Rachel Siewert, Australian Greens spokesperson on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander issues said.

"Our kids represent the next generation, and we need to be doing all we can to make sure they grow up happy and healthy and have the support they need as they're starting out in life.

"It is heartbreaking to think that despite the fact we're a first-world country, there is so much inequality and child poverty in Australia.

"By failing to ensure safe housing, good health, quality education, protection and care, Aboriginal and Islander children's human rights are not being met.

"We've got a long way to go when it comes to closing the gap. Mortality rates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander children are double those of non-indigenous children, and the rate is triple in the Northern Territory. This is unacceptable in a supposedly first world nation, and shows there is still much work to be done.

"By addressing child health and other social issues affecting children, we can ensure that the next generation has better life expectancy and other health outcomes.

"One of the ways to do this is for States and Territories to commit to renewing the National Partnership on Closing the Gap in Indigenous Health. Another is to commit to Justice Reinvestment and invest in the early years of a child's life, improving their start in life and making communities safer.

"We also need to see more investment to address health issues like otitis media, which causes hearing loss among Aboriginal children that significantly affects their lives. We know that hearing loss is linked to under performance in school, problems finding work and increased risk of contact with the criminal justice system.

"Days like today remind us we all need to be part of protecting the rights and lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children around Australia," Senator Siewert concluded.

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