Thousands of First Nations children are continuing to lose their connections to their mob, family and kin with no chance of reunification, despite overwhelming evidence of the harm it causes, advocates have warned.
The Family Matters Report released today at the ninth annual meeting of the Secretariat for Aboriginal and Islander Childcare (SNAICC), shows First Nations kids remain ten times more likely to be in out-of-home or permanent care and the figure is increasing.
“This report makes for uncomfortable reading. Our children are ten times more likely to be in out-of-home care or permanent care, a figure that continues to increase every year. This should be unacceptable,” Family Matters co-chair and SNAICC CEO Catherine Liddle said.
“All children deserve to know who they are, grow up connected to their Mob, family and kin – learn their stories and pass them on to future generations. Yet sadly, for many of our children, this is taken away from them.”
As of June 30, 2020, there were 21,523 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out-of-home or permanent care with 79 per cent permanently living away from their birth parents.
“There has been no shortage of commitments from governments, but not nearly enough action,” said Family Matters co-chair Dr Paul Gray.
“Recent changes in child protection measures have been framed as solutions – such as arbitrary short timeframes for reunification and streamlined pathways to permanent care orders – only entrench many of the problems our children and families face.”
Dr Gray said, concerningly, the number of kids being placed with First Nations carers dropped between 2013 and 2020.
“That’s dropped from 53 per cent in 2013 down to 42 per cent in last year’s figures. That’s something that we’re very concerned about. It means only two in five Aboriginal children are placed with Aboriginal parents which obviously has significant implications for how they live and are immersed in their culture on a day-to-day basis.”
The report highlights the impact of poverty, homelessness, intergenerational trauma and social exclusion on families, and the inadequate responses.
Read the full report at www.familymatters.org.au