Family Matters National Forums


29 August 2014

Adelaide forum identifies strategies to stem the soaring number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out-of-home care


A forum in Adelaide on 27 August attended by 170 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community members, practitioners, service providers and researchers in the child welfare sector has identified a number of initiatives to improve South Australia’s child protection system and stem the flow of Indigenous children being removed from their families.

The forum was told that in South Australia, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children make up 3.5 per cent of the child population yet comprise 30 per cent of all children in out-of-home care. The number of Indigenous children in care in SA has tripled in the past decade, from 236 in 2003 to 788 in June 2013.

This disproportionate rate is reflected across the nation, with almost 14,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out-of-home care — representing a staggering 34 per cent of all children in care.

Participants at the Adelaide forum called for an overhaul of the child protection system in South Australia — which is still operating on principles from the 1960s — including a shift in focus from tertiary services to prevention and early intervention services to strengthen the capacity of vulnerable families to keep children safe.

According to participants, this new prevention focus would not necessarily require extra government investment, more a major re-alignment of existing funding. Other measures suggested by participants include:

• the use of family conferencing as soon as possible once a risk or possible risk to children has been identified, to bring service providers and family groups together to discuss issues and make informed decisions

• the need for cultural competence education for social worker students at university so that they gain an understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, including traditional child rearing practices, and an understanding of the impacts of intergenerational trauma on children and families, including past policies of forcible removal

• a simplified system for family members to gain information from government agencies, as well as the creation of an independent tribunal to review child protection decisions and complaints

• more recognition and support for informal kinship care arrangements and the adoption in South Australia of the highly-acclaimed Winangay assessment tool for carers in use in NSW, and more stringent requirements on non-Aboriginal carers to ensure children remain connected with their birth families and culture, and

• the need for alternative and Aboriginal community-controlled residential care models — for example, boarding schools such as the highly successful Worawa College at Healesville, Victoria.

The Adelaide forum is part of a series of state-territory meetings under the Family Matters — Kids in Culture, Not in Care national initiative being driven by SNAICC in partnership with other major child welfare agencies to reduce the alarmingly high rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out-of-home care. Forum partners in South Australia are Aboriginal Family Support Services, the South Australian Council of Social Service, Uniting Communities, and Child and Family Welfare Association.

A community meeting under the Family Matters initiative was held yesterday in Port Augusta to consult on out-of-home care issues in the Port Augusta region and other regional and remote areas of South Australia.

A report on measures and recommendations arising out of the Adelaide and Port Augusta meetings will be available soon from SNAICC. More information on the Family Matters initiative is available at

Media inquiries:
Frank Hytten, SNAICC CEO, on (0432) 345 652
Gemma Unwin, Family Matters Manager, (0423) 696 880
Giuseppe Stramandinoli, SNAICC Media Officer, (0419) 508 125

2013 Australia – Significant Aboriginal Dates in Aboriginal History

Sunday 4th August 2013

National Aboriginal and Islander Children’s Day is celebrated on 4 August each year. Today is the 26th Anniversary of this special day.

The 2012 National Aboriginal and Islander Children’s Day theme was “Our Children, Our Culture, Our Way”

“… we walked through the rainforest, collated nature and made nature hangings… the mums did traditional weaving and the kids did more games. The kids went to sleep in the bus and the mothers were smiling ear to ear. It was the best day.” Bunjum Aboriginal Co-op

“National Aboriginal and Islander Children’s Day provided an excellent opportunity to promote the importance of children within our community. A specific day for our children was GREAT!!” – Eidsvold Aboriginal Children’s Activities Playgroup, QLD

SNAICC News & Events

The Secretariat of National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care (SNAICC) is the national non government peak body in Australia representing the interests of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families.

[VIC] Melbourne – Stop the Creation of Another Stolen Generation


Stop the Creation of Another Stolen Generation

Stop the Creation of Another Stolen Generation

Participate in this special forum

Location: Federation Square – The Edge Melbourne Victoria

Date: Friday 14th June 2013

Time: 11:00am – 1:00pm

RSVP: to assist with numbers


Wednesday, March 20th, 2013

The Koori Mail

Australia faces the very real prospect of another Stolen Generation unless it stems the tide of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children being placed in out-of-home care, the country’s lead Indigenous children’s advocacy body says.

And it says Indigenous children in care must be supported to remain connected with their families, communities and culture.

The bleak prediction follows new findings that Indigenous children are almost eight times as likely to be abused or neglected as non-Indigenous children and ten times as likely to be in out-of-home care.

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare’s Child Protection Australia 2011-12 report found that substantiated child abuse and neglect in Australia rose by about 20 percent in the 12 months to June last year.

The total number of children, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous, who were the subject of substantiated abuse (where an investigation has confirmed abuse) increased from 31,500 to 37,800, a rate of 7.4 per 1,000 children.

There were nearly 40,000 children in out-of-home care and most – 90 percent – were on care and protection orders.

Children aged just one year or under were most likely to be the subject of a substantiation. In 2011-12, 13.2 per 1,000 children under one were found to be the subject of substantiated abuse, up from 12 per 1,000 in 2010-11.

Older children, aged 15-17, were least likely to be the subject of a substantiation, with a rate of 3.2 per 1,000 children.

But the Indigenous figures were the most concerning, confirming the suspicions of many in our communities – that our already serious situation is getting worse.

Chairperson of the Secretariat of Aboriginal and Islander Child Care (SNAICC) Sharron Williams said it was “simply not acceptable” that one-third of all children in out-of-home-care were Indigenous.

“The financial cost of these continued policy failures is considerable. But the human cost to the individual children, their families and communities is devastating – and it will impact on generations to come,” Ms Williams said.

“ … Clearly current approaches have not worked, as the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children coming into contact with child protection systems in the states and territories continues to grow at an alarming rate.”

Indigenous families and communities had to be involved in finding new and long-term solutions and addressing the underlying causes of child abuse and neglect would be at their core, she said.

“Our children and families continue to experience systemic discrimination and disadvantage in health, education and housing,” Ms Williams said.

“Any long-term and sustainable solutions to our children’s welfare must be based on ensuring the basic needs of our children and families are met.

“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities must be empowered to participate in a meaningful way in the design and delivery of programs that affect their lives.”

Ms Williams said there needed to be a greater focus on early intervention and prevention measures – improving access to Indigenous community-based early childhood, child care, family support and child welfare programs.

“We need to recognise and build on the strengths of Indigenous families and communities to support and nurture their children,” she said.

Once in care, many Indigenous children lost connection with family, community and culture. Their right to that connection needs to be met, SNAICC says, through better application of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Placement Principle, especially in the Northern Territory, Victoria, Queensland and Tasmania, where a high percentage of our children are being placed with non-Indigenous caregivers.

According to the report, the time a child has spent in out-of-home care varied. While 38 percent of children in out-of-home care had been in a continuous placement for five or more years, 19 percent had been in their current placement for less than 12 months.

Across Australia, the vast majority (93 percent) of children in out-of-home care were placed in home-based care, such as with foster carers or relatives/kin.

Lest we forget…Recommendations have not been implemented!

Lest we forget…Recommendations have not been implemented!

The Report:

The Recommendations:

We are calling on people all around Australia and overseas to use the power of the pen to write strong worded letters to every politician you know.

Politicians do not take any notice of telephone calls or emails so we encourage you all to write expressing the disgust you personally feel regarding the current removal of Aboriginal children from their Mothers, families and communities.
Your letters will accompany thousands of other letters as we launch a new campaign to stop this practice that continues to take away our children and destroy our culture.
When you write your letter please send us a copy at, post them on Facebook to our pages and
Stay strong and optimistic!
Yours in the fight for Unity through Lateral Love & Spirit of Care,
Brian Butler & The Lateral Love Team