Armidale’s Aboriginal children among state’s most at risk

ABORIGINAL father Shaun Collins is battling against statistics which show 62 per cent of Aboriginal children in Armidale Dumaresq are developmentally vulnerable.

While his children are well educated and socially competent, a growing number of their peers struggle with learning, literacy, inattention and a lack of general knowledge.

The report, Child Disadvantage in NSW, found a greater number of vulernable Aboriginal children living in Armidale than in Brewarrina and Moree Plains.

Worse still, the statistics show one in five children in New England live in poverty.

In all 1365, or 20 per cent, of the district’s children are deprived and socially excluded. The state average is 13.8 per cent.

Thirty three per cent of all children living in Armidale were developmentally vulnerable, the survey found. Yesterday, Armidale Dumaresq councillor Chris Halligan said parents could lack the capacity to provide positive social modelling.

“There needs to be improved collaboration between the services that help Aboriginal communities,” Cr Halligan said.

Mr Collins said he was concerned to see Aboriginal children often roaming the streets of Armidale very late at night.

There had been promises to build basketball courts in the area to keep youth off the streets, but they had never materialised.

“In Casino, there is a place called ACE, where many Aboriginal youth congregate and it’s terrific. It’d be great to have something like that here,” Mr Collins said.

A NSW Education and Communities spokesman said the department would “continue to focus on teaching and learning strategies which improve educational outcomes for Aboriginal students”.

Different types of preschool providers were all contributing to improved preschool access for Aboriginal children. Also, the new funding model for community preschools, “better aligns” funding with the level of family disadvantage.

The full report found good news in other areas of NSW, with a decline in the number of children deemed developmentally vulnerable in Central Darling.

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