1 April 2015 | General Interest
National Children’s Commissioner Megan Mitchell has acknowledged that racism is an undeniable factor in child removal.
Commenting on a number of aspects of the child protection system that must be addressed, Ms Mitchell said she believed racism was playing a part in the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out-of-home care.
“We know that there’s a level of racism in our community,” Ms Mitchell said. “You’ve got a really high level of surveillance of Aboriginal communities. I do think there’s a level of racism, whether it’s intended or not.”
Ms Mitchell questioned problems with the overall system, pointing to a lack of investment in early intervention and family support.
“I also think that the way we invest in care and protection is at that removal end, not at the family support end,” Ms Mitchell said. “We’ve really got to change things up completely.”
The comments from Ms Mitchell follow the release in February of further worrying statistics in the Productivity Commission’s Report on Government Services (ROGS).
ROGS revealed there were almost 15,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out-of-home care across Australia in June 2014 — or 35 per cent of all children in care, despite comprising just 4.4 per cent of the child population.
The number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out-of-home care has increased by 53 per cent since June 2008.
In November 2014 SNAICC provided a submission to the Senate Inquiry into Out of Home Care, which details five key priorities it believes should underpin new ways of working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families.