13 July 2023

The Closing the Gap annual data report from the Productivity Commission demonstrates the critical need for genuine reform in the child protection sector to achieve better outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children.

The report indicates that nationally there is an increase in the rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 0–17 years in out-of-home care.

Chief Executive of Life Without Barriers, Claire Robbs said she was alarmed to see that only four of the 19 Closing the Gap Targets were on track and devastatingly, Target 12 which aims to address the overrepresentation of First Nations Children in care, went backwards.

“There cannot be a more significant investment nationally in this sector and with Government than the need to urgently address the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in the out-of-home care systems.

“Aboriginal children have been successfully protected and loved for 65,000 years – the systematic ideology that First Nations families are unable to care for their children – evident in the growing numbers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children into care - is in direct conflict with research and advice from First Nations Peaks on what is needed to Close the Gap.

The Life Without Barriers Elevate Reconciliation Action Plan commits the organisation to progressively transition children to Aboriginal community-controlled services, placing decision-making about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children where it belongs – with family and communities.

“The data from the Productivity Commission indicates a stark reality that care sector organisations, government and child protective services are not serving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families as they should,” Ms Robbs said.

“We must do better, and the only way we can is to work in partnership with Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations to realise a future where children and young people can grow up on country and with kin.”

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