The peak Indigenous childcare body says child protection is a national emergency in need of urgent reform after recent ABC reports revealed shocking allegations of abuse, neglect, and racism within Australia’s child protection system.
The nationwide investigation prompted more than 700 people to come forward with concerns about Australia’s failing child protection system, some who were once in care as well as current and former child protection workers.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are ten times more likely to be removed from their families, and despite policies dictating they be placed with Indigenous carers, that doesn’t always happen.
SNAICC – National Voice for our Children, CEO Catherine Liddle says no one with any experience or involvement in Australia’s child protection system should be surprised at the latest revelations of children being harmed in out-of-home care.
“It’s easy to call this a broken system, but it goes much further than that. What it actually means is that the system does not protect our children – it causes further harm,” Ms Liddle said.
“The disgrace is that this is not new, the stories while horrifying and heartbreaking are no surprise.”
For the past few years SNAICC’s Family Matters campaign and report have laid out the case for urgent systemic reform.
The Arrernte/Luritja woman says the evidence has been there for many years. Governments know what the solutions are to keep children safe. But there seems to be no real will to implement them.
“The vast bulk of government funding is spent on intervention and out of home care. Only 16 per cent is targeted to supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families with early intervention and prevention services,” she said.
“We continue to hear from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities who say their voices are marginalised.”
As a key part of the Family Matters campaign, SNAICC has been calling for a National Commissioner for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children with the power to investigate and report on issues that impact our children, advocate for their rights and needs and push the urgent need for policy, program and funding reform.
SNAICC has also called for investment in prevention and early support services for families through a new national program for ACCO-led integrated family support services.
Ms Liddle said, “we know that Aboriginal community-controlled organisations, who are working closely with our children and families in a culturally safe environment, providing wraparound support and giving families a voice in decision-making about their children, make a difference.”
SNAICC urges all governments, State, Territory and Federal, to take urgent action on the evidence base we already have or risk causing further harm to generations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.