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First Peoples

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Journal article

Protecting indigenous children’s familial and cultural connections: reflections on recent amendments to the Care and Protection Act 2007 (NT)

First Nations children Culture Aboriginal people (Australia) Cultural awareness Australia Northern Territory

On the 18 February 2015 the Northern Territory Parliament passed an amendment to the Care and Protection  Act 2007 (NT) establishing a scheme of permanent care orders for children and young people  on other long-term orders under the Act. Of key interest for this article is the issue of cultural identity.


The Act does not mandate a cultural plan for indigenous children, and there are no safeguards protecting the cultural identity of the child once placed on a permanent care order with either a non-Indigenous family or indigenous family (who may not be from the same kin group as the child). In an environment where the child will no longer have a clear legal voice in their family arrangement on completion of permanent care order proceedings, there is a real risk Indigenous children will lose connection with culture, community and country—a situation that has been identified as resulting in a myriad of negative consequences.
The Northern Territory legislation provides a timely opportunity to examine and question generally the appropriateness of the system of permanent care orders throughout Australia. This is especially relevant for Indigenous children as they are significantly over-represented in the child protection and associated out-of-home care system.

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