Family is Culture
The child protection system continues to remove a disproportionate number of First Nations children from their families and culture despite the significant harm state care has had on children and parents – some of whom were part of the stolen generation.
After assessing every Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander child and young person in out-of-home care over a year, the 2019 Family is Culture report made 126 recommendations to better support families that are struggling and remove biases in the system that favour the removal of Indigenous children.
The government had initially planned to delay its response to the report to 2024 but a Greens’ bill which passed the upper house got the government to bring reforms forward. New laws mandate “active efforts” that must be taken before a child can be removed, as well as to restore a child to their family or place them with family or kin. Care plans for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children will include cultural plans developed together with families, and parents with complex needs will have more time to address those needs before their child can be removed.
Organisations working with families facing removal are concerned that the active efforts could become a tick-a-box exercise and I successfully negotiated amendments to provide more oversight on how they are used. The bill is a good first step, but more will need to be done in the next parliament to close the gap and stop tearing families apart. My speech on the bill > HERE