DANIEL THOMAS: This must not happen again

VICTORIA’S Commissioner for Aboriginal Children and Young People says he will include the coroner’s findings from the inquest into Daniel Thomas as part of action to prevent a repeat of the case.

The seven-day hearing into the death of Myrtleford toddler Daniel Thomas, 2, ended on Wednesday and Andrew Jackomos said the case had left him “beyond words”.

“We’ve got to work our guts off to make sure these things don’t happen again,” Mr Jackomos said.

“My preference is to wait until it’s settled until we’ve got all the outcomes and findings after the poor fella’s death and we act on those.

“It’s up to government and community agencies to act on those findings and I see my job is to work with all parties to make it so we don’t see this happen again.”

Mr Jackomos’ position was created four months ago with the Commission for Children and Young People in an effort to reduce the over-representation of Aboriginal children in child protection and youth justice systems.

Mr Jackomos said what happened to Daniel Thomas was rare.

“The great majority of Aboriginal children, like all children, live in strong, loving, nurturing homes; but unfortunately we have an over-representation of Aboriginal children who are vulnerable and that’s got to do with poverty and inter-generational trauma,” Mr Jackomos said.

He said inter-generational trauma that stemmed from the Stolen Generation had perpetuated a mistrust of the child protection system.

“Many of the children today who are in out-of-home care are the children of parents who were in out-of-home care and whose grandparents were removed,” he said.

“The trauma of having children removed in some ways disinclines people from coming forward to report incidents of concern.”

Mr Jackomos said since Daniel’s death, there had been improvements to the child protection system as part of the Children, Youth and Families Act of 2005.

“I’m keen to see that they are working and one of the things is to see greater work with the Aboriginal community,” he said.

“We know that culture is one of the most powerful, resilient factors for Aboriginal children can have. When you’re proud of your culture, you’re proud of yourself and that all contributes to being a better person.”

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