Reflecting on the Family Matters Report 2020
Wednesday 25 November 2020
On Monday 16 November SNAICC released the Family Matters Report 2020, the fifth annual publication looking into the national crisis of continuing and growing removals of Aboriginal children from their families, the reasons behind it and the solutions at hand.
The report revealed Aboriginal children continue to be separated from families at an alarming rate, disrupting their connection to community and culture. Without urgent action, the number of Aboriginal children in out-of-home care is projected to double by 2029.
Aboriginal children are now 9.7 times more likely to be living in out-of-home care than non-Indigenous children, an over-representation that has increased consistently over the last 10 years. The report made clear it is a broken system that is not working for Aboriginal kids.
In NSW some particularly concerning trends were revealed. We found out that:
- NSW has had the greatest decline in the placement of children with Aboriginal carers of any state, from 64.9% to 51.5% between 2014 and 2019
- Aboriginal children in out-of-home care are at serious risk of permanent separation from their families with a staggering 81% (16,287) of Aboriginal children are on permanent (to 18) guardianship, custody or third-party parental responsibility orders Australia-wide, with NSW the worst of any state with 7,126 children
- In 2018-19 there were 19 adoptions, with 95% of these adoptions of Aboriginal children to non-Indigenous carers, all occurring in New South Wales and Victoria.
As for the solutions, the report highlights work being done in states and territories that are leading the way to enable self-determination for Aboriginal people in child protection including through family-led decision-making programs and the delegation of child protection services to Aboriginal community-controlled organisations.
The Family Matters campaign has the goal of eliminating the over-representation of Aboriginal children in out-of-home care by 2040 and has campaigned strongly for a commissioner for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children to be appointed nationally and in every state and territory. This echoed AbSec’s call for the NSW Budget to fund the development of an independent Aboriginal Child Protection Commission, headed by an Aboriginal commissioner.
Karl Williamson is a Project Manager for Western NSW at AbSec and sits on the Family Matters national leadership group. On the launch of the report, he said, “Over 280 people, as well as Indigenous leaders from our three major political parties, came together virtually showing the importance of the Family Matters campaign and messaging. The report shows that the answer to the over-representation of Aboriginal children in out-of-home care lies with community. Governments across Australia must show strength in providing resources and control to First Nations communities to meet their own needs. The ongoing cycle of removal of children must cease so First Nations communities can heal. Permanent separation from family community and culture is not the answer.”
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