A new report by the New South Wales ombudsman has found that the state government abandoned a strategy to reduce the number of First Nations children in out-of-home-care..
The Aboriginal Outcomes Strategy was launched in 2017 by the Department of Communities and Justice and included targets to reduce the number of First Nations children care or entering the system in the first place.
The strategy also set targets transition children to guardianship orders and restore children to their families.
The report found that none of the strategy’s targets have been met, in fact the situation has worsened.
Since the strategy’s launch, the number of First Nations children in out-of-home-care has increased from 38.4% to 43.8% in June 2022.
In that period, First Nations children have gone from being 9.3 time more likely to be in care to 11 times more likely.
The report, tabled by NSW Ombudsman Paul Miller, also found a lack of transparency by the department saying executive monitoring and quarterly progress reports ceased in mid-2019.
Mr Miller also says less than half the districts put in place required local plans, while some other districts did not know about the requirement and two of three planned evaluations of the AOS were not done.
Individual Aboriginal Outcomes Strategy targets:
- 10% reduction in the number of Aboriginal children in OOHC by 30 June 2020.
- Over 5 years, reduce the number of Aboriginal children entering OOHC by 20%.
- Over 5 years, transition 1200 Aboriginal children from OOHC to guardianship orders.
- Over 5 years, restore 1500 Aboriginal children from OOHC to their families.
- the number of Aboriginal children in OOHC on 30 June 2020 was 2.2% lower than the number of Aboriginal children in OOHC three years earlier, far short of the 10% target
- the number of entries of Aboriginal children into OOHC declined by 18.5% from June 2017 to June 2022, close to the 20% target
- a total of 704 Aboriginal children in OOHC exited to guardianship in the five years to 30 June 2022, this is 59% of the AOS target
- 999 Aboriginal children were restored to their families from 2017-18 to 2021-22, this is 66.6% of the AOS target.