The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Placement Principle is about safeguarding the rights of Aboriginal children and young people, their families and communities within the statutory child protection system. It acknowledges the effects of decades of destructive government policies that tore apart Aboriginal families, and recognises that Aboriginal people must be intimately involved in all aspects of child and family welfare to stop this damaging cycle from repeating.
The key goal of the Principle is the same as our goal at AbSec: to keep Aboriginal families together, and to protect every Aboriginal child’s right to their community and culture. These are central to an Aboriginal child’s identity and have been shown to help them grow up strong and confident.
The Principle includes five core elements:
- Prevention: that governments actively support families to address risks, preventing harm and preserving families
- Partnership: that statutory authorities work with Aboriginal people and their organisations in the design and delivery of child and family systems with as much self-determination as possible
- Placement: where Aboriginal children require alternate care, placement must follow a hierarchy that prioritises their family and kin, their Aboriginal community, and the broader Aboriginal community before placements outside of their family and culture
- Participation: Aboriginal children and young people, their families and communities have the right to participate in all decisions that affect their lives, and the lives of their children
- Connection: all decisions must value every Aboriginal child’s right to be connected to their family, community, culture and Country, and support them to do so.
These elements are endorsed by the NSW Government and reflected in the Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Act, but their application is a much more complicated matter. AbSec works to keep the Government accountable to enacting the Principle, and supports the Department of Family and Community Services in finding the best solutions for Aboriginal children and young people.