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CREATE responds to debate about adoption of Indigenous children

Written on March 14, 2018

You may have seen some debate in the media this week about the broadening the scope of adoption to enable adoption of Indigenous children by Non-Indigenous families.  CREATE stands united with our colleagues in the Family Matters campaign on this issue.  Please see below our correspondence regarding this issue today sent to David Gillespie, Assistant Federal Minister for Children and Families .

 

Dear Mr Gillespie,

RE ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER CHILDREN AND YOUNG PEOPLE IN OUT-OF-HOME CARE

I write in response to recent media where you proposed broadening the scope of adoption to enable adoption of Indigenous children by non-indigenous families.

CREATE Foundation is the national consumer body representing the voices of children and young people with an out-of-home care experience, this includes kinship, foster and residential care. We represent the voices of almost 48,000 children and young people in out-of-home care throughout Australia, and have offices in every state and territory.

I understand that your comment has since been retracted but I would like to provide you with some information that you may find useful moving forward, as the impact that such statements have on children and young people in care is vastly negative.

Drawing on the same data you used, there are currently 17,664 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children placed in out-of-home care. Indigenous children are 12 times as likely to be in out-of-home care by the time they are aged 9 years than their non-Indigenous peers. The rate of removal of Indigenous children continues to increase and currently stands at around 36%, surpassing that of the stolen generations. Your proposal to remove these children permanently into non-Indigenous families would serve only to reinforce, and further, the negative outcomes we have seen for many years already with many children never returning to cultural safety of their families and country.

I would like to draw your attention to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Placement Principle, a fundamental goal of which is to preserve and enhance cultural and familial connection for Indigenous children and young people. This Principle provides a guide or placement hierarchy to assist practitioners in choosing appropriate out-of-home care placements for Indigenous children in order to best preserve their cultural identity.

While the plight of children in a number of remote communities, to which you refer, is indeed extremely serious, it is not directly related to how many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are available for adoption. Any changes to the care system for Indigenous children must be designed in consultation with Indigenous children and young people.

These matters are due in large part to a complex system of poor funding, remoteness and neglected service delivery by successive federal and state governments. Instead of removing even more children, your government needs to focus on stabilising and servicing these communities; for example, with policing and other government health and child protection services, so that the instance of sexual
assault and sexually transmitted diseases are reduced and community education and services are increased.

If you would like to discuss these matters further, and if you would like for me to provide you with the views of many children and young people in out of home care for whom your comments have had a direct effect, please don’t hesitate to contact me at create@create.org.au or via phone 07 3062 4860.

I would very much like to meet with you to assist you in obtaining accurate information in this regard.

Yours sincerely,

Jacqui Reed
Chief Executive Officer
CREATE Foundation