Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children continue to be separated from families and culture at an alarming rate

Family Matters Report 2020 – NOVEMBER 16, 2020

Media Release by Family Matters has stated;

The rising tide of over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children removed from their families continues at an alarming rate, with the majority of those children permanently separated from their parents.

The Family Matters Report 2020, reveals that our children continue to be removed from family and kin at disproportionate rates – disrupting their
connection to community and culture. Family Matters Chair Sue-Anne Hunter said,
“Our children are 9.7 times more likely to be living away from their families than non-Indigenous children, an over-representation that has increased consistently over the last 10 years. It is time to completely change this broken system that is not working for our kids.”

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children represent 37% of the total population of all children that have been removed from their parents – a staggering 20,077 children – but represent only 6% of the total population of children in Australia.

Without urgent action, the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out-of-home care is projected to double by 2029.

The report reveals a concerning trend towards permanent placement and a rise in adoptions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. A worrying 81% (16,287) of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out-of-home care are living permanently away from their birth parents until the age of 18 years.

In 2018-19, there were 19 adoptions. Of these, 95% of adoptions of our children have been to non-Indigenous carers, and all occurred in New South Wales and Victoria. Ms Hunter continued, “The majority of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are thriving, supported in family, community and culture.

“Permanently removing our children from their family and ties to the community is not the answer to a happy, healthy and safe upbringing. We have learnt from the Stolen Generations that removal leads to continued disadvantage and intergenerational trauma for our children.“Connection to culture is crucial for our children to develop their own sense of identity, connection and belonging.”

The new National Agreement on Closing the Gap was signed in 2020 and includes a target to reduce the rate of over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out-of-home care by 45% by 2031.
This target can be met by increasing prevention and early intervention supports to families, and by supporting families to safely reunify when children have been removed.

The report highlights states and territories that are leading the way to enable self-determination for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in child protection including through family-led decision-making programs and the delegation of child protection services to Aboriginal community-controlled organisations.

Read full Media Release by Family Matters here.