Child protection and Aboriginal children

  • 1 in 18 Aboriginal children live in out of home care 

  • 1 in 6 Aboriginal Children are involved with Child Protection Services 

  • If removals continue at the current rate, the population of Aboriginal children in out-of-home care will more than double in the next 10 years. 

 

These statistics are alarming and prove that there is a continued over-representation of Aboriginal children involved with child protection. 

This is an epidemic impacting our children and our community. Our children hold fundamental human rights and the government needs to be held accountable to its obligations in the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child.  

Australia and Victoria must improve their application of the human rights as the current systems, policy and reforms frequently violate these rights. 

Elizabeth Morgan House sits at the frontline of these systemic failures, continually perpetrated against Aboriginal women within a family, their community and broader society. The impacts on our children will have implications across their entire lifetime. 

Imagine being told by a Child Protection Worker that because you have experienced domestic violence in your home, you need to leave your home or your kids will be taken from you. With nowhere to go, the choice is homelessness or losing your kids. 

That’s the choice facing many Aboriginal women who want to leave a violent relationship. Once children are taken, it is very difficult to get them back. Aboriginal kids are less likely to be rehomed than non-Aboriginal children. 

In 2018-19 a fifth of all Aboriginal children placed in out-of-home care were under a year old and were removed at nine times the rate of non-Aboriginal infants. Between 2019 to 2021 the number of Aboriginal children in out of home care rose while the number of non Aboriginal children in out of home care declined. 

The National Framework for Child Protection states: 

  • Implementing funding prioritising policies that require decisions about the provision of services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities to preference Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community controlled organisations  

  • Where new, relevant funding initiatives are decided by governments which are intended to service the broader population, that a meaningful proportion is allocated to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations with relevant expertise, particularly community-controlled organisations.

Elizabeth Morgan House has not seen this in action. With Aboriginal children being placed in out of home care at 11 times the rate of non-indigenous children, we are in a crisis. 

Elizabeth Morgan House is committed to protecting the right of self-determination of all Aboriginal Women and their children by being a leading culturally competent service. We are led by Aboriginal women, and work collaboratively with our members and women to defend their human rights as a grassroots peak body. 

 

We are calling on the state government to urgently review the child protection system so that it: 
  • Centres the rights of the child 

  • Keeps families together as much as possible 

  • Prioritises Aboriginal culture and families 

  • Invests in prevention and early intervention programs and services before children are placed into the child protection system – or invests into programs and services to ensure early intervention and prevention of our children entering the child protection system. 

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Australia is a signatory to the Convention, which details that all Aboriginal children hold a fundamental human right to: 

  • Know their parents and where possible be cared for by them 

  • A name, nationality and family ties 

  • Learn and use the language and customs of their families, whether or not these are shared by the majority of people in that country 

  • And many others

'If there was one thing in your lives that you could change, what would it be?' Young people said: 

  • “Get out of foster care.” 

  •  “To be with your family.” 

  •  “Go back to my mother.” 

  •  “Would rather be back in...” [she named her local community] 

  •  “Get my dad back.” [Dad had died]. 

  •  “Dad come to my house.” 

  •  “Have family together – Dad and Mum.” 

Voices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people in care, AIFS (2007) 

Want to lend your voice?

Elizabeth Morgan House is a member based organisation and we encourage all Aboriginal women to become members. Aboriginal women heal Aboriginal women. 

We appreciate any donations that help us provide a voice for Aboriginal women and children to government.  

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