SNAICC and many of its members have been watching with concern as, around the country, a range of processes are undertaken to progress longer-term care arrangements for children. They vary in detail but have been broadly described as permanency planning measures. Some of these proposals have already taken the form of legislative changes (NSW, Vic. and NT), whilst in other jurisdictions they are still being considered (WA and Qld). The promotion of permanency planning has already been impacting on the practice of the placement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out-of-home care.
For children who are placed in out-of-home care, stability of relationships and identity are vitally important to their wellbeing and must be promoted. SNAICC is deeply concerned, however, that these changes fail to sufficiently recognise that stability for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children is grounded in the permanence of their connection with kin and culture.
SNAICC has undertaken research and consultation and has produced this paper to inform and influence policy development and practice reform. Both policy and practice must support the safety and welfare of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, and cannot be allowed to place them at greater risk of harm.
The paper examines the proposals and sets out SNAICC’s key concerns. It describes the concepts that underpin our understanding of best practice in achieving stability for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. Finally, it articulates priorities for reform, including the key principles that we believe should guide stability and permanency planning.