Because of Them, We Must - Family Matters 2019 Report

17 October 2019

Child safety is paramount and there may be times when a child must be removed and placed into out-of-home care. However, according to Family Matters it is an increasing crisis for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.

Family Matters, Australia’s national campaign to eliminate the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out-of-home care within a generation, by 2040, has just released its report, The Family Matters 2019.

This extensive report shows that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are not only over-represented in out of home care, but there is a growing trend towards permanent placement away from their families.

For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children, connections to their family, community and culture and critical to their well-being and positive identity, and thus the consequences of removal are profound.

“In 2018 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children were 7 times more likely to be on a permanent care order until aged 18 and at risk of permanent separation from their families, cultures and communities.”

The report states that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are 10 times more likely to be removed from their family and culture than non-Indigenous children. These numbers are already alarming, and the report highlights that at the current trajectory, they are only going to grow.

“If we do not change our course of action, the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out-of-home care will more than double in the next 10 years.” says Family Matters Co-Chair Richard Weston.

As a major provider of child, youth and family services Life Without Barriers knows the statistics in the report well, but understands many people may be surprised by the findings.

Life Without Barriers’ Chief Executive, Claire Robbs, supports Family Matters’ year after year campaign to call on all governments, and the entire community, to come together to find solutions.

The Report was launched this morning in Canberra at Old Parliament House. Natalie Lewis, Chief Executive Officer, Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Protection Peak Limited, led the launch articulating that there has never been a more compelling case for change.

Family Matters are not just providing stats and data, they are also providing solutions and calling for an end to legal orders for permanent care and adoption for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. Instead they are calling for the focus to turn to supporting their connections to kin, culture and community.

The Family Matters Report 2019 calls for:

  1. A national comprehensive Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children’s strategy that includes generational targets to eliminate over-representation and address the causes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander child removal.

  2. Investment in quality Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community controlled integrated early years services through a specific program with targets to increase coverage in areas of high Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population and high levels of disadvantage.

  3. Establishing state-based and national Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children’s commissioners to enable improved government accountability and oversight.

  4. An end to legal orders for permanent care and adoption for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, replaced by a focus on supporting their connections to kin, culture and community.

Learn more through the provided links below:

  1. Data Snapshot

  2. Report

  3. Media release

All photos and snapshot infographics by Family Matters.

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