Life Without Barriers Elevate Reconciliation Action Plan Launch

A game changer for Closing the Gap targets and the future of First Nations children.

In a ground-breaking development in the First Nations’ child protection sector, one of Australia’s largest providers of out-of-home care has committed to step away from the provision of care to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and advocate for the support and investment of resources into community-controlled organisations.

The Life Without Barriers Elevate Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) commits the organisation to progressively transfer children to Aboriginal community-controlled services, placing decision-making about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children where it belongs – with family and communities.

Reconciliation CEO Karen Mundine said the Elevate RAP was a game-changer for the wellbeing of First Nations children and families.

“This RAP includes substantive action that will have a profound impact on the lives of many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, families and communities for years to come,” said Karen Mundine.

“For the first time it will place power in the hands of those who best understand the strengths of and challenges to our families and children.

“The transformative actions arising out of this RAP come from a respectful partnership between Life Without Barriers and SNAICC and demonstrate the potential for RAPs, to profoundly support Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander aspirations for self-determination.”

Chief Executive of Life Without Barriers, Claire Robbs said the partnership is an example of the genuine reform possible in child protection when organisations are encouraged and supported to strive further in their reconciliation commitments.

“Our commitment to step away from the provision of care is one part of the equation – equally important is our organisations commitment to advocating for resourcing and investment to be directed into community-controlled organisations,” Ms Robbs said.

“The support of Reconciliation Australia and SNAICC had enabled us to shape our commitment and be on the right side of history.”

SNAICC- National Voice for Our Children CEO Catherine Liddle said Life Without Barrier’s commitments set a precedent for other mainstream organisations working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families.

“Closing the gap for our children requires genuine effort from Governments and mainstream organisations to transform the way they work with us.

“Life Without Barriers is to be congratulated for having the vision and courage to see Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and organisations have the solutions and the expertise to know what works for our children and families.

The three organisations are calling on state and federal governments to increase resources to community-controlled child protection services to ensure the transfer can occur without disruption to children or families.

Read the Life Without Barriers Elevate RAP.

An Elevate RAP is for organisations that have a proven track record of embedding effective RAP initiatives in their organisation through Stretch RAPs and are ready to take on leadership to advance national reconciliation and actively champion initiatives to empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and create societal change.

Paul House with gum leaves and smoke
Paul Girrawah House

Paul Girrawah House has multiple First Nation ancestries from the South-East Canberra region, including the Ngambri-Ngurmal (Walgalu), Pajong (Gundungurra), Wallabollooa (Ngunnawal) and Erambie/Brungle (Wiradyuri) family groups.

Paul acknowledges his diverse First Nation history, he particularly identifies as a descendant of Onyong aka Jindoomang from Weereewaa (Lake George) and Henry ‘Black Harry’ Williams from Namadgi who were both multilingual, essentially Walgalu-Ngunnawal-Wiradjuri speaking warriors and Ngunnawal–Wallaballooa man William Lane aka ‘Billy the Bull’ - Murrjinille.

Paul was born at the old Canberra hospital in the centre of his ancestral country and strongly acknowledges his First Nation matriarch ancestors, in particular his mother Dr Aunty Matilda House-Williams and grandmother, Ms Pearl Simpson-Wedge.

Paul completed a Bachelor of Community Management from Macquarie University, and Graduate Certificate in Wiradjuri Language, Culture and Heritage and Management from CSU.

Paul provided the Welcome to Country for the 47th Opening of Federal Parliament in 2022. Paul is Board Director, Ngambri Local Aboriginal Land Council, Member Indigenous Reference Group, National Museum of Australia and Australian Government Voice Referendum Engagement Group.  

Paul works on country with the ANU, First Nations Portfolio as a Senior Community Engagement Officer

Acknowledgement of Country

Reconciliation Australia acknowledges Traditional Owners of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing  connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures; and to Elders past and present. 

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples should be aware that this website contains images or names of people who have passed away.

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