SNAICC, the national peak body for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, says a United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child report shows Australian governments must take urgent action to prevent Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from being removed from their families and placed in out-of-home care, including foster care.
“The UN Committee’s report clearly shows that Australia continues to violate the rights of our children and the solutions lie within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families, communities and organisations,” says Ms Muriel Bamblett, Chairperson of SNAICC.
Our call for a national comprehensive Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children’s strategy that includes generational targets to eliminate over-representation and address the causes of child removal aligns with the UN Committee’s recommendations. A national strategy is what we have been calling for, along with other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations, for a very long time.”
We also need national and state-based commissioners for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children who can hold governments to account by ensuring that they are implementing evidence-based, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-led solutions.”– Adjunct Professor Muriel Bamblett, SNAICC Chairperson
“It is imperative that Australian governments work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to implement the UN Committee’s recommendations and the recommendations put forward by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people,” says Ms Bamblett.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are now 10.2 times more likely to be placed in out-of-home care than other children and are 2.6 times more likely to be developmentally vulnerable when they start school.
The UN Committee says that it remains seriously concerned about the continuing over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in alternative care, often outside their communities. The Committee is also concerned that solutions to prevent children’s entry into care, such as positive educational outcomes for children in the early years, remain limited for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.
To address these concerns, the UN Committee has urged governments across Australia to strongly invest in measures developed and implemented for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and communities to prevent their placement in out-of-home care, provide the adequate support while in alternative care and facilitate their reintegration into their families and communities. The Committee called on governments to meaningfully involve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and their communities in the planning, implementation and evaluation of policies concerning them.
Currently, just 17% of child protection funding has been invested in support services for children and their families. A very limited percentage of funding is provided to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations to provide the culturally safe supports needed for children and families.