Release date: 11/01/24

Public hearings for an Inquiry into the removal and placement of Aboriginal children and young people in South Australia are now complete.

Evidence was heard from 25 witnesses involved in child protection services, including the Chief Executive and Deputy Chief Executive of the Department for Child Protection, the Guardian for Children and Young People, renowned researchers, Aboriginal program leads and the Aboriginal community-controlled sector.

The hearings explored the child protection service system and its policies, practices and procedures impacting the application of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Placement Principle (ATSICPP) in removal and placement decisions.

Among topics of note were:

  • family support services
  • family led decision-making
  • finding family
  • family contact
  • connection with culture and identity
  • attachment, bonding and child rearing practices
  • workforce issues
  • service models and system design.

All recordings are available on the Commissioner’s website

Evidence gathered from the hearings will inform the final findings and further recommendations of the Inquiry, which will be released soon.

A preliminary report of the Inquiry was released in October 2023 and included 17 recommendations to inform the proposed legislative reform to the Children and Young People (Safety) Act 2017.

The Inquiry has heard from more than 1,000 people, including more than 400 Aboriginal people who have shared their experiences and stories.

April Lawrie, Commissioner for Aboriginal Children and Young People said:

“I want to thank everyone who has contributed and provided valuable input into the Inquiry.

“The public hearings were a chance to explore in greater detail approaches that are working well and those that must change if we are to provide better outcomes for Aboriginal children and young people, their families and community, especially preventing unnecessary removals.

“It was also a chance to understand where and why authorities are failing to implement the ATSICPP and its five core elements of prevention, participation, partnership, placement and connection.

“We know that when Aboriginal children and young people are connected to family, community and Country we can help to break the cycle of disadvantage, poverty and trauma.”