• STOCK IMAGE - Indigenous children are 11 times more likely to be in out-of-home care than non-Indigenous kids. (AAP)Source: AAP
Indigenous children are coming into contact with child protection services at rates higher than they were five years ago.
Keira Jenkins

18 Mar 2020 - 10:35 PM  UPDATED 18 Mar 2020 - 10:40 PM

The number of Indigenous children coming into contact with child protection services has been on the rise in the past five years according to a new report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

While the number of children affected by child protection services in Australia has increased between 2014 and 2019, the overall rate has not changed in the same period. 

Dr Indrani Piereis Caldwell, spokesperson for the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), attributes the anomaly in the numbers to population growth.

The rate of Indigenous children receiving child protection services has grown from 132 in 1000 to 156 in 1000 in the same period.

Dr Pieris-Caldwell said one in six Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children received child protection services between 2014 and 2019.

"We see a three percent increase each year in the number of children receiving child protection services but when you look at the rate, that's remained stable, because the population of children has also grown at the same rate," she told NITV News.

Dr Pieris-Caldwell said while the data that was collected for the report doesn't give insight into the reasons that child protection is rising for Indigenous children, she suspects there could be multiple factors behind it.

"There's still the legacy of past policies and the inter-generational trauma associated with that.

"Indigenous children are more likely to live in low socioeconomic families. There's also a lack of understanding of differences in culture in raising children that comes up.

"It could also be an increased awareness and increased rate of reporting behind it."

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AbSec, the peak body for children and families in NSW, CEO Tim Ireland said the new report jut provides 'further evidence of what we have known for many, many years'.

“Aboriginal children and young people in Australia continue to be disproportionately affected by the child protection system, and are about 10 times more likely to be removed from their families than non-Aboriginal kids," he said.

"We know that the long-term outcomes for kids entering care are poor, and that children are better served by investing in family support programs delivered through Aboriginal organisations rather than removal and intervention.

"We will continue to see the same results until governments step up and make the changes that are so desperately needed.”

 44,900 children were in out-of-home care in 2019, with 67 per cent having been in care for more than two years.

In 2018-2019, 3,700 children were reunited with their families.

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