The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare has released the results of a 2015 national survey pilot on the views of children and young people in out-of-home care. The pilot survey is a component of the National Standards for Out-of-Home Care, which is an initiative aimed at improving the consistency and quality of care experienced by children in Australian child protection systems, under the National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children 2009-2020.
Key findings from the survey were overwhelmingly positive. However, with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander kids currently 9.5 times as likely to be placed in out-of-home care than non-Indigenous kids, the research for Indigenous children paints a different picture.
Jurisdictions collected survey data from of 2,083 children aged 8-17 (34% identifying as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander) under the care of the Minister, Guardian or Chief Executive as part of their case management processes between 1 February 2015 and 30 June 2015.
Key findings include:
- 91% of children reported feeling both safe and settled in their current placement
- 86% of children reported that they had at least some knowledge of their family background and culture
- 67% of children reported that they usually get to have a say in what happens to them, and people usually listen to what they say
- 70% of children reported satisfaction with one or more types of contact (that is, visiting, talking or writing) with non-co-resident family
- 97% of children reported that they had a significant adult; that is, an adult who cares about what happens to them now and in the future
- 58% of those aged 15-17 reported that they were getting as much help as they needed to make decisions about their future. A further 30% reported that they were getting some help but wanted more.
While this report shows many positive outcomes, leading care providers spoke with the ABC on 23 March about why they are treating the findings with caution.
CEO of Barnardos, Deirdre Cheers comments: “The [children] that participated are likely to have been placed in families who were supportive of their participation…that’s not to say that these aren’t great results, but they are probably indicative results of children who are more likely to be in settled placements.”
Victoria’s Commissioner for Aboriginal Children and Young People, Andrew Jackomos, remains critical of a system which is failing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander kids: “We have hardly any Aboriginal people who are working in child protection and I think this is a real indictment upon Government’s failure to grow, to nurture the Aboriginal workforce, as well as our children, in culturally rich places.”
CEO of the Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency, Professor Muriel Bamblett, agrees: “I think the significant issue for us is the limited number of Aboriginal carers putting up their hand to look after Aboriginal children. So in Victoria almost 60% of Aboriginal children are placed with non-Aboriginal carers. So having children having an experience of living in the Aboriginal community and being a part of the Aboriginal community is a big issue.”
Comprehensive online data can be viewed via the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare website.