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Issue #1674      February 25, 2015

Big jump in child removals

The number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out-of-home care increased by more than 1,000 between June 2013 and June 2014, according to the latest Productivity Commission report on government service delivery.

Padraic Gibson, senior researcher from the Jumbunna Indigenous House of Learning at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS), has documented the contemporary child removal situation. “This is the biggest increase in removals since the dramatic spike that accompanied the NT Intervention in 2007,” he said.

“Approximately 15,000 Aboriginal children are now in out of home care. These numbers are far higher than at any time during the Stolen Generations of the 20th Century.”

Mr Gibson has also provided support to many Aboriginal families who have had their children removed. “I have worked extensively with families affected by child removal and seen firsthand how the discriminatory and paternalistic attitudes of child protection agencies lead to the persecution of Aboriginal families,” he said.

“In cases where there are crises within families that need addressing, this is often the result of poverty and the absence of meaningful support services.

“Sadly these conditions are set to get worse with cuts coming down from the Commonwealth Government to badly needed Aboriginal-controlled services already struggling to deliver.”

Mr Gibson has promised to lend his support to the Grandmothers Against Removals in NSW (GMAR) group in its rally to demand an end to continuing Stolen Generations and continued impoverishment of Aboriginal people.

“Jumbunna is supporting the national campaign of Grandmothers Against Removals – families directly affected by the current crisis – who are demanding a national process of restoring Aboriginal children to their families, and self-determination for Aboriginal people within the welfare system,” he said.

“The only solution to this crisis is putting resources and control in the hands of Aboriginal people themselves.”

The shocking facts

The latest Productivity Commission report shows that:

  • On June 30, 2013, there were 13,914 Indigenous children in out-of-home care. On June 30, 2014, there were 14,991 Indigenous children in such care. This is an increase of 1,075 children in just 12 months.
  • The rate at which Indigenous children are in care also increased, from 4.81% of the national Indigenous child population to 5.14%
  • Over the last 12 months to June 30, 2014, 17,573 Indigenous children had at least one placement in out-of-home care. This is more than 6% of the Indigenous child population nationwide.
  • Every jurisdiction experienced significant increases in removals, except for South Australia and Tasmania, where there were very slight decreases.
  • Victoria had a 32% increase in the number of Indigenous kids in care, from 922 to 1,308. The Northern Territory also had a 25% increase in numbers, with 774 Indigenous children in care on June 30 2014, more than three times the number before the NT Intervention.

Koori Mail

Next article – Statement of the 32nd Solidarity Brigade from Australia and New Zealand

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