The Family Matters Report 2021, launched on 9 December at the 9th SNAICC–National Voice for our Children National Conference, shows that our children continue to be removed from family and kin at disproportionate rates. This is despite overwhelming evidence about the harm this causes to children, families and communities.
This report makes for uncomfortable reading. Our children are 10 times more likely to be in out-of-home care or permanent care, a figure that continues to increase every year. This should be unacceptable.
– Catherine Liddle, Family Matters Co-Chair and CEO SNAICC–National Voice for our Children
This year the report finds that a staggering 21,523 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children were in out-of-home care at 30 June 2020, which represents one in every 15.6 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children living in Australia. 79% (17,068) of those children live permanently away from their birth parents.
Children are predominantly placed with non-Indigenous carers, with the proportion of children placed with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander carers dropping from 53% to 42% between 2013 and 2020.
Commonwealth, state and territory governments have committed to reduce the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out-of-home care by 45% by 2031 through the National Agreement on Closing the Gap – yet according to the report, representation is expected to increase by 54% by 2030.
The report highlights the impact of poverty, homelessness, intergenerational trauma and social exclusion on families, and the inadequate responses.
“With 84% of government child protection funding spent on intervention and out-of-home care, and only 16% invested in supporting our children and families with early intervention and prevention services, we have a fundamentally flawed system that urgently needs fixing”, says Dr Paul Gray, Family Matters Co-Chair.