Bringing Them Home, the landmark report into the Stolen Generations, was released 21 years ago, in 1997. At that time, many Australians were shocked to learn that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children represented 20 per cent of children living in-out of-home care (Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission, 1997).
Now, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children make up just over 36 per cent of all children living in out-of-home care; the rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out-of-home care is 10.1 times that of other children, and disproportionate representation continues to grow (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare [AIHW], 2018b). Since the last Family Matters Report over-representation in out-ofhome care has either increased or remained the same in every state and territory. This has eventuated despite – or because of – the laws, policies, and programs of successive Australian governments.
Government and community agree there is a problem. The Stolen Generations policies and practices, in combination with persistent social inequity, have created an ongoing legacy of disproportionate child protection interventions with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, families and communities across Australia, and significant under-investment in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-led and controlled solutions. Things are getting worse, not better.
Family Matters reports set out what governments are doing to turn the tide on the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in outof-home care, and the outcomes for children and their families. The reports contribute to efforts to change the story by explaining the extent of the problem and reporting on progress towards implementing evidenceinformed solutions that aim to eliminate, within a generation, the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children living away from their parents and families in statutory out-of-home care.