The Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency welcomes a new provision of the Victorian Child Protection Act that gives it responsibility for the welfare of a child under protection of the state.
“This is an important step towards realising self-determination for Aboriginal people in Victoria,” said agency CEO Muriel Bamblett.
Section 18 of the Children, Youth and Families Act 2005 came into effect on November 12 this year and charges the agency with responsibility for the safety and wellbeing of an Aboriginal child who has been placed under a Children’s Court protection order.
According to the Australian Institute of Family Studies, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children were seven times more likely than non-Indigenous children to be subject to harm or the risk of harm.
Nationwide, 38.8 Indigenous children to every 1,000 children were the subject of substantiated reports of harm or risk of harm, compared to 5.7 non-Indigenous children.
In Victoria, 60.3 children were Indigenous for every 1,000 compared to 8.1 non-Indigenous children.
A series of child protection orders have been designed to take them from harm and into state care.
Families and Children Minister Jenny Mikakos told media giving an Aboriginal agency responsibility was an important step towards providing Indigenous children with the care they require.
“Section 18 will enable community-led decisions regarding Aboriginal children that are culturally appropriate, which we know leads to better outcomes,” Ms Mikakos said.
The provision was made based on a pilot project conducted in 2015 comprising a program manager, two case managers and a policy development position to manage Aboriginal child protection cases.
While the provision has taken effect, section 173 of the Family Violence Protection Act 2008 states that family violence intervention orders prevail over child protection orders.
Section 175 determines that bail conditions prevail over a child protection order.