UNICEF: Urgent need to address inter-generational removal of Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander children from their families

SYDNEY, 9 November 2016 - Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people are significantly over-represented in the out of home care system. They are only 5.5 per cent of all Australian children, yet comprise over 35 per cent of the children in care.  
 
Today, the Family Matters Coalition launch their report to highlight the chronic rate of overrepresentation, and suggest measures to ensure Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children grow up safe and cared for, thriving in family, community and culture.
 
“Repeated child protection inquiries over the last 20 years have stated the need for preventative and early intervention measures to support families. Despite this, only 17% of child protection funding is directed to support services that can prevent families from entering into crisis,” said Tara Broughan, Senior Policy Advisor, UNICEF Australia.
 
Family Matters aims to eliminate the unacceptable over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in the child protection system.
 
“We must come to terms with the lessons of the stolen generations, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander decision making and leadership is required both in individual cases and in the broader child protection system,” added Ms Broughan.   
 
UNICEF Australia partners with the Family Matters Coalition, led by SNAICC – National Voice for our Children, a collaboration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders, mainstream and community-controlled service providers, peak bodies, community leaders, and academics working together to see all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children grow up safe and cared for, thriving in family, community and culture.
 
The Family Matters coalition calls for bipartisan support from Australian governments to work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, including children, to implement the following recommendations:
 
  • A comprehensive Council of Australian Governments (COAG) strategy to redress the causes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander child removal and improve child safety and well-being, backed by strong targets 
  • A minimum of 30 per cent of all investment in child protection be channelled into prevention and early intervention 
  • A new federal program for effective and culturally safe reunification programs across Australia 
  • State-wide Aboriginal family led decision-making programs 
  • A federal program to trial local community strategies to redress local risks for children and mediate child protection intervention, and 
  • State-based commissioners and peak bodies for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in all states and territories. 
More information about the campaign and the Family Matters Report are available here