The already alarmingly high numbers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children being removed from their families will triple across the next two decades unless there is an urgent and concerted effort by government and the community to tackle the problem, the inaugural Family Matters report reveals.
Launched on Wednesday at Parliament House in Canberra, the report highlights that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are almost 10 times more likely to be removed by child protection authorities than non-Indigenous children. Right now, approximately 15,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are living away from their homes, too many separated from their families and culture.
To address this national crisis the Family Matters coalition – a 150-strong contingent of prominent Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations, noted academics and other groups – is calling for a comprehensive national strategy to be adopted by state and federal governments.
Family Matters Co-Chair and CEO of SNAICC – National Voice for our Children, Gerry Moore, said the current approach from government was not targeting the root causes of the problem, which is growing rapidly. Just 17 per cent ($700 million) of overall child protection funding is spent on support services for families, he said, meaning the bulk ($3.5 billion) was being spent reacting to the problem, rather than preventing it.
We are deeply shocked by the projection of current trends showing the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out-of-home care will almost triple by 2035 – this is a stark warning that we need a new approach.”
“The Family Matters campaign demands a COAG strategy to urgently address this national crisis.”
– Gerry Moore, Family Matters Co-Chair