The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare released its Child Protection Australia Report for 2021-2022.
Key data in relation to out-of-home-care includes:
- Nationally, as at 30 June 2022:
- 45,400 children were in out-of-home care.
- 19,400 were Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children (57 per 1,000 Indigenous children).
- Around 90% of children were in home-based care (foster care, relative/kinship care and other home-based care) and around 8.5% were in residential care.
- Disability status was known for 71% (32,300) of children in care, of whom 29% (9,300) had a disability.
- Nationally, in 2021-22:
- 70% (31,700) of children in out-of-home care had been in care for 2 years or more, known as long-term care.
- Tragically, 1,200 children were subjects of substantiations of abuse in care.
CREATE welcomes state and territory funding boost for child protection and out-of-home-care.
Over May and June 2023, State and Territory Governments across Australia released their budgets for 2023-24. CREATE was pleased to see a number of strong commitments and investments in the out-of-home-care sector and toward early intervention programs. However greater investment is required nationally to meet the needs of children and young people in out-of-home-care, and to support young care leavers in the face of Australia’s cost of living and housing affordability crisis.
Budget highlights include:
- Victoria’s budget included a major investment in residential care, including supporting young people with complex needs leaving residential care. Importantly, it also includes a major step in expanding self-determined Aboriginal-led child protective services.
- Queensland Government has boosted funding for frontline child safety workforce and committed $107 million for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled organisations to support the expansion of delegation of statutory authority for First Nations children in the child protection system, as well as increased investment to support targets around increasing kinship care placements and decreasing reliance on residential care.
- South Australia has also boosted it’s funding for child protection as part of this year’s budget, and allocated funding to the establishment of a new peak body for Aboriginal children and young people.
- Western Australian Government has committed $19.6 million to progress reform of out-of-home care services.
- ACT’s budget included increased investment in property to enable the delivery of contemporary best practice therapeutic residential care for children and a commitment to establishing a dedicated First Nations Family Support team within Child and Youth Protection Services to improve culturally safe practice and engagement with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families.
Important legislative reforms in Victoria, Queensland and Tasmania
Children and Health Legislation Amendment (Statement of Recognition, Aboriginal Self-determination and Other Matters) Bill 2023 was passed in Parliament by the Victorian Government.
CREATE was pleased to see the passing of this Bill. It is a critical step to reduce the over-representation of Aboriginal children in care in a way that is culturally safe and promotes the best interests of the child.
Tasmania’s Child and Youth Safe Organisations Bill 2022 passes the Legislative Council.
Children and young people in institutional settings will have greater protection following the passing of the Child and Youth Safe Organisations Bill 2022 by the Legislative Council.
The Bill establishes a new legally mandated framework — known as the Child and Youth Safe Organisations Framework — for specific organisations that engage with children and young people, including out-of-home-care organisations. The Framework will come into effect from 2024.
Tranche 2 of Queensland Government’s Child Protection Reform and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2022 commenced on 21 May 2023.
This important legislative change reinforces children’s rights, strengthens their voices in decisions that affect them, requires active efforts to apply the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Placement Principle when making a significant decision about an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander child.
Consultation opportunities for young people and the sector
CREATE is wrapping up its national consultations for 2022-23, so keep an eye out for more information around key findings and insights. We would like to extend a massive thank you to all the young people around the country who have taken the time to tell us about their views and experiences in the care system.
The Australian Government wants to hear from young people on the development of a new national youth engagement strategy. For more information, please see the Office for Youth website: Get involved – Office for Youth, Australian Government.
Final days to contribute to the National Commissioner’s consultation around youth justice and related systems. For more information please see the Australian Human Rights Commission website: Call for submissions: Youth Justice and Child Wellbeing Reform across Australia | Australian Human Rights Commission