Aboriginal children are over-represented in the child protection system, AbSec notes

by Freya Lucas

February 19, 2020

Urgent reforms are needed to support for Aboriginal families in the New South Wales  child protection system, AbSec has said

 

The call to action is relevant to the early childhood education and care (ECEC) sector due to the obligations for those working within it to develop respectful and reciprocal relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples within their local context, and to reflect on how cultural diversity, including that of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders peoples, is embedded into the curriculum. 

 

AbSec used the occasion of the 12th anniversary of the Apology to the Stolen Generations to draw attention to the continuing and disproportionate impact of government policy on Aboriginal children, families and communities through the release of its annual Report Card on the NSW child protection system

 

Using data released from the Productivity Commission, including the number of Aboriginal children in notifications, investigations, the provision of family support and experiences in out-of-home care (OOHC), AbSec noted that the figures “demonstrate that significantly greater effort is needed to address the overrepresentation of Aboriginal children across the child protection system and to meet the needs of Aboriginal children and families, with particular focus on prevention and early intervention to heal Aboriginal families and communities.”

 

Complimenting the recent Family is Culture review, released in November 2019 and outlining the experiences of 1,144 Aboriginal children removed from their families between 1 July 2015 and 30 June 2016, the Report Card shows that much more needs to be done, AbSec CEO Tim Ireland said. 

 

“Aboriginal children and young people in NSW are still nine times more likely to be in OOHC than their non-Indigenous peers. Aboriginal families continue to face the devastating consequences of being torn apart, with children at risk of losing their connections to kin, Country and culture,” Mr Ireland added. 


Calling for significant reforms to systems and practice to meet the Government’s responsibilities to Aboriginal children and young people, prioritising prevention and early intervention through Aboriginal community-led solutions, and improving transparency and accountability across the system, both the Review and the Report Card are indications of the depth of the crisis, AbSec noted. 

 

AbSec called for the NSW Government to join with Aboriginal communities to urgently act on the 125 recommendations provided by the Family is Culture review to safeguard the rights and wellbeing of Aboriginal children and young people. 

 

“The Family Is Culture review gave us a roadmap to improve the system for Aboriginal children. So far it has been met with silence from this Government,” Mr Ireland said. 

 

“The wounds caused by government policy will not heal without a clear commitment and urgent action to implement these reforms in partnership with Aboriginal peoples,” he added.  

 

Mr Ireland said there is an urgent need for greater investment in family supports to respond effectively to families experiencing crisis, to keep children safe and to preserve families wherever possible.

 

He urged the NSW Government to commit to equitable investment through an Aboriginal commissioning framework across the child and family system. 

 

“This means delivering on the Government’s commitment to direct 30 per cent of Targeted Earlier Interventions funding to Aboriginal families through Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations and extending this approach across the whole system,” he added. 

 

AbSec would also like to see greater transparency and analysis of the reason behind the contrasting trends regarding the number of Aboriginal children in notifications and investigations, and what this means for the safety, welfare and wellbeing of Aboriginal children and young people, Mr Ireland said. 

 

“The effects of the policies that characterised the Stolen Generations continue in the contemporary child protection system. AbSec’s goal in releasing this Report Card is to encourage transparency and accountability when it comes to how these systems continue to affect our children and families,” he concluded. 

 

To download the AbSec Report Card, please see here. For access to the Family is Culture: Independent Review into Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children and Young People in Out-of-Home Care in New South Wales review, please see here

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