It is incredibly sad to reflect on the statistics for Aboriginal children in out-of-home-care in Australia. Whilst Aboriginal children represent approximately 5% of the overall population of children, they make up nearly 40% of all children in care.
The reasons for the over-representation are linked to generations of disadvantage, discrimination in policy, attitudes and sector practice.
How to reduce these numbers would be much better earlier intervention for at-risk families and greater opportunities for Aboriginal people and communities On Country. The solutions should be driven by Aboriginal people and communities and the Government/s job is to get behind the solutions.
In NSW there is a concerted effort to increase the number of Aboriginal owned and operated agencies as well as Aboriginal staff across the entire sector. This will take time to be realised.
Aboriginal children who do need to come into care (whether for a short period or longer) should first be placed with their own family. When there is no family that can provide care as a carer, then Aboriginal children should be placed with foster carers from their own Aboriginal nation. Again, if this cannot occur, then Aboriginal children are cared for by Aboriginal foster carers from another Aboriginal nation. The last option should be non-Aboriginal foster carers.
While there remains a need for carers for Aboriginal children, there is a desperate need for more Aboriginal carers so we can keep children On Country, with community and stop further cultural isolation occurring. And of course by keeping Aboriginal children close to family, we can increase the opportunities of getting children back home.
To read more research about this: