7 September 2015 | General Interest
SNAICC Chairperson Sharron Williams has discussed the climbing rates of Aboriginal children entering out-of-home care on Radio Adelaide, calling for families and communities to be given more control when a child is removed.
Speaking to current affairs program The Wire, a program broadcast exclusively on community and Aboriginal radio stations around Australia, Ms Williams was invited to discuss the escalating numbers of Aboriginal children being removed from their families.
Ms Williams said our priority in cases of children being placed in out-of-home care should be that these children are being placed with extended family.
“We have an Aboriginal Child Placement Principle that says children should be placed with extended family, with community, within their own cultural group as a priority, and we should all be aiming for that,” Ms Williams said.
“What we need to do is provide more Aboriginal services within communities to support that happening. We need to be looking less to the statutory authorities to provide that support and more to Aboriginal NGOs working in communities.”
Ms Williams provided a stark assessment of the situation faced by these children entering the out-of-home care system.
“What is happening now is we’re fracturing our children’s future, we’re destroying communities by continuing to remove children, and the rate that we’re removing children now is far greater than it ever was during the stolen generation years. We’ve more than doubled the number of children being removed. This is a terrible indictment on how we are now managing the protection of Aboriginal children.”
The program feature coincided with a Healthy Development forum in Adelaide, where Centre for Child Protection Director, Professor Fiona Arney, called for the establishment of a new Institute of Excellence in Indigenous Child Welfare aimed at reversing the climbing number of Aboriginal children being taken into care.
The Adelaide Advertiser has published an article outlining the proposal from Professor Arney, which can be read online via the Advertiser website.
Discussing the Institute of Excellence in Indigenous Child Welfare on The Wire, Professor Arney explained why such a centre is vital in tackling this issue.
“I think the institute will do a number of things. The first thing it will do is it will support innovation and new ways of working in this area – something that’s been sadly needed for a long time, as we’ve seen increasing numbers of children come into contact with the system and come into out-of-home care,” Professor Arney said.
“I think it will also support training in those new models.
“The third thing it will do is it will elevate this as a policy issue so that it will mean it’s on the radar of people, and that we can get combined action to really address this problem.”