Over twenty years ago, the release of the Bringing them Home (1997) report highlighted that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children represent 1 in every 5 children living in out-of-home-care. Today, despite attempts to protect the cultural rights of Indigenous and Torres Strait Islander children, this number continues to rise. In 2017 Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander children represent 1 in every 3 children living in out-of-home-care, a figure that increases consistently each year.
According to the Family Matters Report (2021):
- A staggering 21,523 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children were in out-of-home care in June 2020. If no action is taken, this devastating number will double by 2029;
- Authorities are 10 times more likely to force Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children into out-of-home care than non-Indigenous children. This is up from 9.5 times more likely in 2015;
- 84% of government child protection funding is spent on out-of-home care, while only 16% is invested in supporting children and their families through early intervention and prevention services. We must stop reacting and start investing in proactive, solution-based programs!
Removing children from their family, community, and country is not the solution. As the devastation of the Stolen Generations has taught us, the consequences of child removal are severe. It leads to continued disadvantage and intergenerational trauma, leaving children “at serious risk of permanent separation from their families, cultures, and communities.” If states and territories want to achieve the Closing the Gap target to reduce the overrepresentation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out-of-home care by 45% by 2031, there is an urgent need for meaningful change.