Reviewing Implementation of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Placement Principle Western Australia 2019


This report reviews the progress of the Western Australian Government in implementing the full intent of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Placement Principle.

This implementation review is conducted on the basis of the best practice approach set out in SNAICC, 2017, Understanding and Applying the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Placement Principle – A Resource for Legislation, Policy and Program Development and SNAICC, 2018, The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Placement Principle: A Guide to Support Implementation.

It considers changes in the implementation of the five elements of the Child Placement Principle – prevention, partnership, placement, participation and connection – described in diagram across five interrelated system elements, since the comprehensive baseline analysis SNAICC released in April 2018 (2018 Baseline Analysis). These system elements are legislation, policy, programs, processes and practice.

The review therefore only considers the Child Placement Principle implementation efforts from 1 May 2018 – 30 April 2019.

Key findings of the Implementation Review for Western Australia 2019

Western Australia has the highest rate of over-representation in out-of-home care nationally.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in WA are now 17.8 times more likely to be placed in out-of-home care than a non-Indigenous child. This represents a slight increase from the previous year (17.4 times more likely in 2016-17). Aboriginal children now represent more than 55% of the total children in out-of-home care in WA.

There continues to be very limited Western Australian policy, programs, processes and practice that explicitly provides for or promotes child and family participation in decision-making. There are some processes in place to ensure that Aboriginal convenors are sought out for pre-hearing conferences and the Department reports that it is undertaking work to attract and retain Aboriginal ‘signs of safety’ convenors. However, without appropriate legislation, policy or programs that support independent participation, family meetings may remain culturally unsafe and not allow for Aboriginal children and families to be self-determining.

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