The over-representation of First Nations kids in out of home care continues to rise

The rates of removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children by government agencies into out-of-home care (OOHC) nationally continues to worsen.

New figures released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) reveal that Indigenous children are now 11.5 times more likely to be placed in care than their non-Indigenous counterparts.

This is an increase on AIHW figures reported in 2017 (10.1 times more likely) and 2021 (11.1 times more likely) and comes despite state and territory governments across Australia signing up to a new Closing the Gap Agreement in July 2020, which included  a specific target for reducing over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in child protection systems.

Concerningly, more than a third of Indigenous children in OOHC are in the least preferred placement option (away from Aboriginal family and kin) and a quarter do not have a cultural support plan.

In NSW, these were all issues addressed by the Family is Culture (FIC) Review report, which examined Aboriginal children and young people’s over-representation in OOHC in NSW, making 126 recommendations for systemic reform.

PIAC has been working with AbSec and the Aboriginal Legal Service (NSW/ACT) (ALS) to urge the NSW Government to implement all of the FIC systemic recommendations as a matter of priority, in genuine partnership with Aboriginal organisations and communities.

‘It is completely unacceptable that the rate at which government agencies are removing Aboriginal children from their families and homes has continued to increase,’ said PIAC CEO, Jonathon Hunyor.

‘We welcome the commitment by the NSW Government to introduce a Bill to implement some of the FIC legislative reforms. But we need to see real change.

‘It is vital that the voices of Aboriginal peak bodies and other Aboriginal stakeholders are listened to in developing that Bill, and that it takes the steps outlined by FIC,’ said Jonathon Hunyor.

AbSec and the ALS have published a community monitoring and reporting framework for implementation of the FIC Recommendations and have established a petition calling on the NSW Government to urgently implement the needed reforms. More information is available on the AbSec website.

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Towards Truth is a partnership between PIAC and UNSW Indigenous Law Centre.
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