The disproportionate representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people is a pervasive feature of statutory child protection systems across all jurisdictions in Australia.
It is perhaps our greatest challenge and contemporary injustice.
The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Placement Principle (ATSICPP) was developed to protect key human rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, including the right to be raised in their own culture and the importance and value of their family, extended family, kinship networks, culture and community.
It is clear from the Our Way Strategy and the significant reform agenda pursued under subsequent Changing Tracks action plans, that the Queensland government is firmly committed to reducing the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out-of-home care. Queensland remains the first and only jurisdiction to enshrine all five elements of the ATSICPP in its child protection legislation and to commit to a whole-of-Government, generational strategy to eliminate over-representation. We acknowledge the significant efforts undertaken as well as the enormity of the challenge to achieve truly transformational change. We also appreciate that seeing this translate into significant improvements in the national data set is a long-term proposition.
Publicly available data analysed by the QFCC confirms that Queensland’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children continue to be over-represented across the continuum of statutory child protection intervention. The inequity experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families across a number of social determinants of wellbeing contributes significantly to the rate of formal contact and ongoing involvement with the child protection system. This disproportionate representation is a rights issue of the highest magnitude.
The QFCC is undertaking a comprehensive program of work to examine the dynamics and drivers of this over-representation across Queensland’s child protection system to understand the causes and situational influences. This will involve an in-depth, rights-based analysis of ATSICPP’s implementation across the system, which will provide an opportunity to evaluate the efficacy of the ATSICPP implementation as the means to address over-representation. Focussing on Queensland specific data at a State, regional and local level we will be able to better identify iterative improvements as well as establish a more nuanced picture of both the drivers and dynamics of over-representation in different parts of Queensland.
Principle Focus: A child-rights approach to systemic accountability for the safety and wellbeing of Queensland’s First Nations children is the first paper in a series that will be produced by the QFCC about this issue.