Family Matters reports focus on what governments are doing to turn the tide on over-representation and the outcomes for children. They also highlight Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-led solutions and call on governments to support and invest in the strengths of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to lead on child wellbeing, development and safety responses for our children.
- The report again finds limited progress to redress over-representation and the drivers of child protection intervention. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children continue to be separated from their families, communities and cultures at devastatingly high rates.
- A genuine commitment to broad and holistic changes to systems and practice will be needed to achieve the Closing the Gap out-of-home care target. While some promising policies and initiatives have been introduced, government efforts continue to be broadly piecemeal and ineffective in responding to the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, families and communities. The impacts of colonisation, past and present discriminatory policies and practices, and persistent social inequity, coupled with underinvestment in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-led and controlled solutions, have created a legacy of disproportionate child protection intervention in our communities across Australia.
- The report recommends an end to the policy and practice of adopting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from out-of-home care and engage with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to create an alternative system of promoting stability and permanency for children, instead of using permanent legal orders. Where permanent care orders are used, legislate a requirement that an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisation must approve the making of the order.
- Across the country, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and their organisations are demonstrating excellence in supporting families and transforming the lives of our children for the better. These programs span areas including prevention and early intervention, out-of-home care, cultural connection, reunification and policy design. The examples of promising initiatives highlighted here are expanded on throughout this report. In these examples, some jurisdictions are more represented than others reflecting where governments have invested more in Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations (ACCOs).
Family Matters continues to call for a dedicated national strategy as a blueprint for states and territories to implement national standards of practice for our children. This would be further strengthened by a national commissioner for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people with the power to enable real change and ensure accountability on policy reforms.