Australian policy settings began to acknowledge the lessons of our history through greater recognition of the importance of children’s connection to community and culture in the 1980s. At this time, the efforts of Aboriginal community-controlled organisations and advocates led to the establishment of the Aboriginal Child Placement Principle, which is now enshrined in Victoria’s Children, Youth and Families Act 2005 and is intended to guide decision-making in the best interests of Aboriginal children in out-of-home care.
The Aboriginal Child Placement Principle requires that Aboriginal children should only be removed from their homes as a matter of last resort. Where out-of-home placement is deemed necessary, all efforts must be made to place children in accordance with a hierarchy favouring placement with relatives or Aboriginal carers within or in close proximity to community. Non-Aboriginal carers, whether in kinship or other care arrangements, must ensure the maintenance of the child’s culture and identity by facilitating connection with culture where this cannot occur.