7 September 2015 | General Interest
SNAICC welcomes the Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS) paper, Enhancing the Implementation of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Placement Principle, which investigates the multiple and complex barriers to full and effective implementation of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Placement Principle.
The Child Placement Principle was developed in recognition of the devastating effects of the ongoing policies and practices of separation and removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families, communities and culture.
It is a fundamental right of our children to grow up in safe and supportive environments, with a strong connection to family, community, culture and country. The primary purpose of the Principle is to ensure that, in the incident of a child protection intervention, every possible effort is put to preserve and maintain these connections.
Yet recent research would indicate that efforts to implement the Child Placement Principle are not going far enough; the AIFS paper notes that in Queensland, for example, a systematic audit found that while compliance within each step of the Principle was reported as “quite good”, full compliance with each of the five required steps, when viewed together, was not achieved at all in the 2008 sample and was only achieved in 15% of the audit sample in 2010-11 and 12.5% in 2012-13.
Some of the barriers to full implementation of the Principle identified in the new AIFS research include limited understanding of the Principle, over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in the child protection system, poor identification and assessment of carers, and inconsistent involvement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and organisations in decision-making. These findings reflect SNAICC’s research and advocacy.
Promising approaches to addressing these barriers are proposed; these include establishing partnerships between communities and government, and enhancing understanding of the Principle.
Full implementation of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Placement Principle is an ongoing priority for SNAICC and in past publications, SNAICC has recommended establishing nationally consistent legislation, definitions, implementation standards, and compliance and reporting frameworks.
SNAICC is hopeful that this report will inform the current application of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander child placement principle to enhance the physical, emotional and cultural safety of our children.