Indigenous children are placed in out-of-home care at almost 10 times the rate of other Australian children. (The health and welfare of Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people an overview, 2011, page 27, Australian Institute of Health and Welfare). Indigenous children remain significantly over represented in all stages of contact with child protection departments in Australia.
One of the most destructive colonial policies, that has particular significance for child welfare departments, was the forced and unjustified removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families. The trauma of this and other colonial policies is experienced inter-generationally by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. This trauma is often compounded by current and repeated traumatic experiences including violence, sexual abuse, substance abuse and related problems both experienced and witnessed by many Indigenous children.
The peak Indigenous children’s organisation, the Secretariat of National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Care (SNAICC), has been calling for national legislation with respect to Indigenous children’s wellbeing for more than two decades.