Why is it that the numbers don’t add up at all? 5% of the total Australian children are First Nations origins and yet, the same cohort represent more than a third of children in out-of-home-care (approximately 18,000). CREATE Foundation’s independent consultants found that this cohort felt particularly disadvantaged in education, placement stability, and youth justice, indicating that more engagement with cultural supports is needed.
CREATE took this important insight to the 9th annual national conference (6-9 December, 2021) hosted by SNAICC – National Voice for our Children. SNAICC, the national non-government peak body in Australia representing the interest of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people in Australia are 10.6 times more likely (than non-indigenous children) to be removed from their care-givers and placed in out-of-home care. In addition to this, First Nations Australian juvenile men are greatly over-represented in detention (youth justice).
An important part of CREATE’s advocacy strategy is to share the latest vital research and recommendations with the child protection sector. Some of these expert insights and recommendations are directly the voices of children and young people who’ve taken part in CREATE’s independent consultations.
The true experts on what it is like growing up in care are the children and young people with lived experience. CREATE acknowledges the important support of government funding for some of these specific research consultations to inform the sector.
During the SNAIIC conference, Dr Elise Hilder, CREATE’s Policy Influencing Officer, delivered a session on the latest findings, “Journeys in care and beyond: reflections of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people after leaving out-of-home care”
CREATE’s role is to promote the voices of young people with an out-of-home care experience in advocating for systemic improvement. The SNAIIC website shared that “Comprising 40% of the care population, and often impacted by intergenerational cultural trauma, First Nations young people are disadvantageously over-represented.”
Providing connections to culture and community, and assistance with their emerging adulthood is therefore paramount. In CREATE’s recent national Post-Care study, 80% of First Nations participants revealed they had not accessed available cultural services when transitioning. They also felt particularly disadvantaged in the areas of education, placement stability, and youth justice, indicating that more engagement with cultural supports is needed.
CREATE Foundation is the national consumer body representing the voices of children and young people with an out-of-home care experience (including kinship care, foster care and residential care). CREATE develops policy and research to report on and advocate for a better care system.
As an organisation, CREATE is committed to advocating and raising awareness of the significant and disturbing overrepresentation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people in statutory care is unacceptable in Australia. Read more on this issue via the CREATE position paper
For more information please visit the CREATE website at www.create.org.au
Read about SNAIIC at https://www.snaicc.org.au/conference/
For further comment from CREATE’s Chief Executive, Ms Jacqui Reed, and/or a young person with care experience contact Leigh White, CREATE Communications Advisor, via (m) 0431 932 122 or email@example.com
Key statistics on the care sector in Australia:
1. 45,996 children and young people were reported in 2019-20 as living in out-of-home care across Australia (Australian Institute of Health & Welfare, 2021)
2. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children comprise 5% of the total child and young person population up to 17 years of age (ABS 2011).
3. Nationally, the rate of Indigenous children in out-of-home care was 10.6 times the rate for non-Indigenous children (AIHW, 2014).
4. Young people in out-of-home care are 16 times more likely to be under a youth justice order than the general population
5. 30% of young people experience homelessness within the first year of leaving care. (McDowall, J. J. (2020).
6. 46% of males have been involved with the justice system since leaving care
7. 29% of young people who have left care or preparing to leave care are unemployed
8. 36% children and young people in care do not live with any of their siblings
9. 35% of young people in care have five or more caseworkers during their time in care
10. 67% of young people in care over the age of 15 are not aware of having a leaving care plan
McDowall, J. J. (2018). Out-of-home care in Australia: Children and young people’s views after five years of National Standards. Sydney: CREATE Foundation.