In 2019, the landmark Family is Culture report highlighted significant flaws in the child protection system impacting on Aboriginal children and families. Two years on, the NSW Government has made little substantive progress on its 126 recommendations and is yet to adequately engage or empower Aboriginal communities and stakeholders to partner as key decision-makers in its implementation.
These are key findings of a new accountability framework published on Monday by AbSec and the Aboriginal Legal Service (NSW/ACT), to track the Government’s progress in implementing these crucial reforms.
‘We know that the child protection system is failing Aboriginal children, families and communities. We urge the NSW Government to work with Aboriginal communities and organisations like AbSec and the ALS to change the system,’ said PIAC CEO, Jonathon Hunyor.
‘Every year action is delayed, around 900 Aboriginal children are removed from their families and potentially exposed to lifelong trauma. Family is Culture provides the blueprint for a better system – we now need the NSW Government to follow-through, in genuine partnership with Aboriginal stakeholders.’
Data released in last week’s Budget estimates hearing revealed that the rate at which Aboriginal children are removed from their homes has worsened in recent years – with Aboriginal children now 11 times more likely to be in out-of-home-care than their non-Indigenous counterparts.
The NSW Government also confirmed that there were 6,829 Aboriginal children in out-of-home care on 30 June 2021, representing a 4% increase since 2018 and making up 43% of all children in the system.
‘The out-of-home care system can cause irrevocable damage to the very children it claims to protect. The NSW Government must put self-determination at the heart of systems reform, and listen to Aboriginal communities and organisations to turn the situation around,’ added Jonathon Hunyor.
Read the op-ed in the Sydney Morning Herald by the report’s author, Cobble Cobble Woman Professor Megan Davis.