04 December 2017

Child protection and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children

This paper uses information from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare Child Protection data 2015-16 to provide information about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children involved in the child protection and out-of-home care systems.


Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are over-represented in every area of the child protection and out-of-home care services compared to non-Indigenous children. Between 1 July 2015 and 30 June 2016, the rate of substantiations of abuse, neglect or risk of harm was 43.6 per 1,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in Australia, with neglect and emotional abuse the most frequent primary types of maltreatment. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children were almost seven times more likely than non-Indigenous children to be the subject of substantiated reports of harm/risk of harm.


Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are also over-represented in the out-of-home care system. In 2016, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children were 9.8 times more likely than non-Indigenous children to be in out-of-home care nationally. Overall, rates of out-of-home care for both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children have continued to increase between 2012 and 2016. In 2015-16 66.2% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children were placed with relatives/kin, other Indigenous caregivers or in Indigenous residential care.
The paper includes discussion of the underlying causes for the over-representation of Indigenous children in child protection and out-of-home care and issues in placing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children within their community.