< Back

The numbers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out-of-home care could triple in the next 20 years.

A report released by the Family Matter campaign at Parliament House on 29 November 2017 revealed that as a nation we are not only failing to reduce the shocking over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out-of-home care, we are failing to stop this over-representation from increasing.

The Benevolent Society strongly backs the calls being made today by the Family Matters campaign and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community to stem this tide of removal and keep children with their families wherever possible. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children make up more than one third (36 per cent) of all children removed from the care of their parents and placed into the out-of-home care system. The projections in the Family Matters Report show that if nothing is done these numbers will continue to skyrocket and further generations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children will be lost to their families, communities, and culture.

children-playing

Just as this negative trajectory is clear, so too is the path towards positive change. We know that the approach used by our governments isn't working. Our child protection systems are geared to reacting to problems when they arise, rather than supporting families to resolve issues before they develop. We know that providing family support services is a critical cornerstone for building the wellbeing and safety of children. Family support services help enhance the capacity of families to care for their children and address complex challenges before they escalate and place children at risk. Investing in supports that strengthen families and communities has a downstream effect in reducing child maltreatment.

Yet only one in every five dollars spent on child protection is invested in family support. At the same time, government spending on the tertiary child protection services that remove children and place them in out-of-home care continues to grow every year. In essence, we need to stop investing in failure and increase funding for families to succeed. In the words of Family Matters Co-Chair, Natalie Lewis, 'what we really need is governments to resource our vision for a better future for our children.' If we are to address the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out-of-home care, we need to put Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations, communities, children and families at the forefront of decision-making and invest in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-led and controlled solutions.

As the group most impacted by these decisions, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are in the best position to know the solutions that will work for their families and communities. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children have been growing up in strong, safe communities for over 60,000 years. If we want to change the path we’re on, we must create space for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and communities to lead the way forward.

The Family Matters Report provides a comprehensive analysis of how well each state and territory is tracking in addressing the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out-of-home care. Some state and territory governments are taking steps in the right direction. For example, this year Queensland adopted the Our Way generational strategy for reform, based on the Family Matters Road-map. But it is clear that we still have a long way to go.

As a strong supporter of the Family Matters campaign, The Benevolent Society urges all levels of government to engage with this important report and listen to the voices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities deeply affected by this issue. As the report shows, if we fail to turn the tide of trauma and removal, we will face devastating results. To change this trajectory, we call on state and federal governments to commit to the recommendation of the Family Matters Report to ensure that future generation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children can grow up connected to their family, culture, and country. 

If you have any other questions, give us a call, we will make sure that we will do our best to answer your questions. You can phone us on 1800 236 726 or check out our website