This review is aimed at examining the high rates of Aboriginal children and young people in out-of-home care (OOHC) in New South Wales (NSW) and the implementation of the Aboriginal Child Placement Principle (ACPP) in this jurisdiction. The review was named Family is Culture.
The review involved, among other things, an analysis of policies and practices relating to Aboriginal children in OOHC, community consultations and public submissions, and a detailed examination of the circumstances of the 1,144 Aboriginal children who entered OOHC in NSW between 1 July 2015 and 30 June 2016. This case file review process generated a significant amount of qualitative data about ‘on-the-ground’ casework practice in respect to Aboriginal children and families in contact with the child protection system. Examples of this casework practice, and more fulsome case studies, are dispersed throughout this report to provide vivid, real-life illustrations of themes and issues that arose during the review.
- The Department of Communities and Justice should convene a roundtable with the Aboriginal community and stakeholders to discuss the meaning of data sovereignty and the designing, collecting and interpreting of the department’s administrative data relevant to Aboriginal children and young people.
- The Department of Communities and Justice should establish an Aboriginal Quality Assurance Unit to address issues discussed in this report. Including that recommendations made by Aboriginal staff or community members in consultative processes are tracked and implemented, and that data about the implementation of these recommendations is made publicly available.
- The NSW Government should, in partnership with Aboriginal stakeholders and communities, review the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Principles of the Children and Young Person (Care and Protection) Act 1998 (currently sections 11–14), with the view to strengthening the provisions consistent with the right to self-determination.
- The NSW Government should increase financial investment in early intervention support as a long-term investment to prevent more Aboriginal children entering the out-of-home care system, and ensure that financial investment in early intervention support is commensurate with the proportion of Aboriginal children in out-of-home care, with a preference for delivery of early intervention and prevention services by Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations.
- The Department of Communities and Justice should record, collect and report data around the consideration of the use of less intrusive options prior to entry-into-care. These data should include whether or not these measures were considered and if they were not used, reasons should be recorded and reported on against each possible measure. This data collection should be designed and interpreted in partnership with Aboriginal stakeholders and community.
This report is dedicated to the 1,144 Aboriginal children and young people who entered out-of-home care between mid-2015 to mid-2016. Your stories will remain with us forever. We recognise you, your dignity and your identity as proud Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people. We acknowledge your struggles and your resilience, and we are fiercely hopeful for your futures. We also acknowledge your places of belonging, and note you came from the following First Nations and clans: Anaiwan, Awakabal, Barkindji (Paakantji, Baagandji), Biripi, Bundajalung (Bundjalang), Cape York Far North Queensland, Dharawal Nation, Dharug (Dharuk), Eora (Iyora, Iora), Gidabul (Gidabal), Gubbi Gubbi (Gabi Gabi), Gumaynggir, Gundidy, Gunditjmara, Gundungurra, Dunghutti (Dhangadi, Dungutti), Kamilaroi (Gamilaraay), Kanai (Gurnai), Kooma (Guwamu), Kunja, Murawarri, Narangga (Narrunga), Ngadjuri, Ngarrabal, Ngarrindjery (Narrinyari), Ngemba (Ngiyambaa, Ngiyampaa), Ngunawal Nation, Palawa, Pitjantjatjara, Torres Strait Island Clan Unknown, Wailwan, Wajuk (Whadjuk), Wangkumara, West Coast Clan, Wiradjuri, Wongaibon, Worimi, Yorta Yorta, Yuin, Ywemba Wemba (Wamba Wamba).