Indigenous children are 10 times more likely to be placed in foster care than non-Indigenous children, a new report has found.
According to government statistics, there were 47,915 children placed in out-of-home care across Australia in 2016-17. That figure includes 17,664 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.
The data also shows the proportion of Indigenous children placed in foster care has steadily increased over 10 years to 36.8 per cent from 29.1 per cent.
The Family Matters Report attributes the “escalating problem” to poverty, family violence and “intergenerational trauma” experienced by the Stolen Generations.
“Sadly, we are still facing a crisis of child protection intervention in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander family life,” wrote Natalie Lewis, the chairwoman of Family Matters.
“Efforts to address broader community and social issues that contribute to risk for our children across areas such as housing, justice, violence and poverty, remain vastly inadequate and lack coordination.”
The non-government organisation has called for more money for early intervention programs, including culturally appropriate programs and support services.
“The choices that we make now go to the very heart of our shared obligation to heal our nation’s fractured past and secure our children’s future,” Ms Lewis said.
Meanwhile, the Australian Lawyers for Human Rights have said that changes to adoption laws in New South Wales “risk creating another stolen generation”.
The amendments mean placing a two-year limit on foster care before children are found a new home and permanently separated from their parents.
“We are astounded that the NSW Government has rushed such a significant piece of legislation with profoundly serious consequences for the children involved,” said Kerry Wester, president of the ALHR.
“These measures will predominantly impact Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.”