While the emerging theory of ‘social investment’ offers an opportunity to advance the political discourse beyond the false dichotomy between economics and social justice, social investment for Indigenous children and families must be built on the awareness of the need to promote human rights, respect Indigenous cultures and address the historical conditions that create disadvantage.
For many Indigenous children and families, mainstream Australian society fails to provide the conditions for social growth because it is built on systemic racism. In order to create the conditions for positive social engagement for Indigenous children and families, there needs to be a social investment framework which recognises that colonisation has impacted negatively on Indigenous social and economic capacity, and which builds on the strengths of Indigenous culture and respects the self-determining rights of Indigenous communities in order to re-build capacity.
A holistic, cultural strengthening and self-determination/human rights-based framework is the best approach to ensure that Indigenous children have a better future and participate positively in Australian society without forfeiting cultural identity and integrity. A human rights and culturally respectful framework can facilitate a ‘meeting place’ where Indigenous cultures can engage with the dominant culture and positive partnerships for social investment can be developed.