At 7.30am today, the third annual Family Matters Report was publicly released in Canberra. The Family Matters Report 2019 again highlights the continuing and escalating crisis of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children being over-represented in Australian child protection systems.

The report highlights a growing trend towards permanent placement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children away from the families with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children now 10.2 times more likely to be removed from their families than non-Indigenous children and 7 times more likely to be on a permanent care order. According to Richard Weston, CEO of SNAICC and Co-Chair of the Family Matters Campaign, this trend is placing children at serious risk of permanent separation from their families, cultures and communities.

”If  we do not change our course the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in care will more than double in the next ten years,” said Mr Weston.

“The trauma associated with child removal is intergenerational. It affects a person’s functioning in the world, has an adverse impact on relationships and creates vulnerability in families. Healing is an important part of reclaiming the resilience we need to deal with life’s challenges and addresses the burden of trauma in our communities”.

Natalie Lewis, CEO of the Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Protection Peak and Co-Chair of the Family Matters Campaign commented that this year’s report once again demonstrated that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children enter statutory child protection systems at a greater rate, stay longer and are reunified with their parents far less frequently (Courier Mail, 17 October).

Ms Lewis also said, ”In jurisdictions that have created the space for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and community-controlled organisations to lead reforms, we are seeing glimpses of change”. In particular, Ms Lewis acknowledged that with Queensland’s development of the Our Way Strategy that was informed by the Family Matters Roadmap released four years ago, Queensland has begun showing improvement and could provide a blueprint to tackle the problem nationwide (Courier Mail, 17 October).

The Family Matters Report 2019 reveals the profound impact of poverty and homelessness on children being removed from home, prompting leaders of the Family Matters Campaign to call for further action to also be taken by the Commonwealth Government.

“The tendency to deflect responsibility for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children to states and territories because of their role in administering statutory child protection systems, diverts our attention and focus to the wrong end of the continuum,” Ms Lewis said. “The solution cannot be found there.”

Ms Lewis called for more investment in the future of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. “This cannot be done by perpetuating the status quo,” she said. “It is a challenge for all governments today and must become the mandate for tomorrow”.

Click here to access a full copy of The Family Matters Report 2019.

Click here to access the Family Matters 2019 Data Snapshot.

Click here to find out more about how you can support the Family Matters Campaign.

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