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What is the issue?

When the ground-breaking Bringing Them Home report into the Stolen Generations was released in 1997, Australia was shocked to learn that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children represented one in every five children living in out-of-home care.
Today – over 25 years later – they are one in every three.

The causes of over-representation are complex, including the legacy of past policies of forced removal, intergenerational effects of separations from family and culture, poor socio‐economic status and perceptions arising from cultural differences in child‐rearing practices. The consequences of child removal are profound: devastating families; deepening intergenerational trauma; too often severing children’s cultural bonds and triggering poor life outcomes; and eroding culture and community.

Even with the principles of prevention and early intervention contained in Australian policy frameworks, we still see over 80% of funding going into the out-of-home care system instead of into solutions.

There is a clear and urgent need for change.

 

The Solutions

More information

The outcomes delivered by child protection systems across Australia are alarmingly poor for children and families and are achieved at significant and increasing financial and human cost.

Children in out-of-home care are much more likely to experience poorer health, depression, violence and suicide over their lives; be imprisoned; suffer from alcohol abuse and gambling addiction, and be less likely to have trusting relationships, healthy parenting models, and access to education and economic opportunities. Impacts also ricochet through families through our health, education, welfare and justice systems. Cost benefit analyses demonstrate that improving child safety and rectifying these increasing and unsustainable government costs are best achieved through redressing the causes of child removal, and investing early to better support at-risk families.

The evidence is clear that the strengths to address child wellbeing and safety concerns lie within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. Extensive research demonstrates the unique value of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander child-rearing practices, the importance of Indigenous-led solutions to improving outcomes and the importance of cultural identity continuity for Indigenous children’s wellbeing. Yet, these strengths continue to be undermined by an ever-deepening crisis of child removal that breaks families apart and disrupts the social fabric of communities.

There is overwhelming evidence of a series of government policy failures in the response to the escalating crisis of child removal. These include:

  • failure to redress high levels of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander poverty
  • failure to intervene early to support, strengthen and heal families and communities from intergenerational effects of colonisation, and separation from family and culture through the Stolen Generations
  • failure to enable genuine self-determination – a platform in policy, legislation and resourcing that provides communities with opportunities for empowerment, to draw on their strengths and lead responses to the issues facing their children and families
  • failure to redress discrimination and perceptions arising from cultural differences in child-rearing practices.
It is clear that extensive and urgent reform is required to enable better outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and to stop the perpetuation of inter-generational harm.

 

The Family Matters Report

Resources

News

Family Matters Report 2023

November 2023

Family Matters Report 2023 shows that child protection systems continue to fail Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, with the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children entering out-of-home care continuing to rise, exposing them to ongoing harm and trauma. This report highlights, in particular, Aboriginal-led solutions to what is working best for our children and communities.

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News

Family Matters Report 2023 – Report Card

November 2023

Report Card for Family Matters 2023 Report.

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News

Family Matters Report 2023 – Data Snapshot

November 2023

Data Snapshot for Family Matters 2023 Report.

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News

Family Matters Brief

November 2022

Fact sheet with key information on Family Matters.

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News

Family Matters Data Snapshot 2022

November 2022

Data snapshot on the Family Matters 2022 annual report.

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News

Family Matters Report 2022

November 2022

Family Matters 2022 report is the third to be published following the development of the new National Agreement on Closing the Gap and it measures the trends to turn the tide on the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out-of-home care in Australia.

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News

Family Matters Data Snapshot 2021

November 2021

Data snapshot on the Family Matters 2021 annual report.

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News

Family Matters Report 2021

November 2021

Family Matters Report 2021, launched at the 9th SNAICC – National Voice for our Children National Conference, shows that our children continue to be removed from family and kin at disproportionate rates, despite overwhelming evidence about the harm this causes to children, families and communities.

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News

Family Matters Data Snapshot 2020

November 2020

Data snapshot on the Family Matters 2020 annual report.

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News

Family Matters Report 2020

November 2020

The Family Matters Report 2020 reveals that our children continue to be removed from family and kin at disproportionate rates – disrupting their connection to community and culture. The report highlights states and territories that are leading the way to enable self-determination for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in child protection including through family-led decision-making programs and the delegation of child protection services to Aboriginal community-controlled organisations.

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News

Family Matters National Reflective Practice Tool

November 2020

The Reflective Practice Tool is developed for signatories of the Family Matters campaign to deeply reflect on their practice on an annual basis and identify any strengths, challenges and corresponding actions to effectively implementing the six core principles and four building blocks of the campaign to ensure that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are safe, well and cared for in their families, communities and cultures.

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News

Family Matters Data Snapshot 2019

November 2019

Data snapshot on the Family Matters 2019 annual report.

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