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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.