Inquiry

Find information about the Inquiry into the removal and placement of Aboriginal children in South Australia.

The Inquiry will consider how the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Placement Principle (the principle) is applied in the removal and placement of Aboriginal children in out-of-home care.

Why an Inquiry is necessary

The Commissioner for Aboriginal Children and Young People’s role is to advocate for the rights and interests of all Aboriginal children and young people in South Australia.

This includes inquiring into systemic-level matters related to their rights, development and wellbeing.

Commissioner April Lawrie explains why she is undertaking this Inquiry.

READ THE TRANSCRIPT

The strength of Aboriginal children and young people is their family, community and country.

This connection develops their cultural identity and their sense of belonging.

When cultural identity is strong, children tend to have higher self-esteem, more confidence and greater belief in what they can achieve.

They grow up connected with family and community and immersed in their cultural identity.

But too often cultural identity is being lost, especially if an Aboriginal child enters care.

Aboriginal children are over-represented in out-of-home care in South Australia.

When they enter care, only 3 in 10 are placed with Aboriginal family or kin, a rate that’s decreasing.

And their chance of reunifying is lower than anywhere else in the nation.

This needs to change.

Upholding the strength of cultural identity for Aboriginal children is vital.

But many Aboriginal children and families have told me of negative experiences.

That’s why I’m undertaking this Inquiry into the removal and placement of Aboriginal children.

I want strong Aboriginal voices to speak up and be heard – to share their stories and experiences in safe and supportive ways.

And I want to hear from people coming into contact or working in child protection about challenges with applying the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Placement Principle.

South Australia needs a system that enshrines connection to culture, family and community as a birthright for Aboriginal children.

I want to make sure every Aboriginal child and young person can be seen, be heard and can flourish, whatever their circumstances.

And that their families and communities lead decisions about each child’s future.

Family and culture is everything.

We need more than good intent.

We need action so every Aboriginal child and young person can have a positive, healthy future – enjoying their right to family and their cultural identity.

What the statistics show

South Australia has the:

  • second highest rate of Aboriginal entry into out-of-home care nationally
  • highest rate of Aboriginal children on long-term guardianship orders
  • lowest rate of reunification for Aboriginal children
  • second lowest proportion of expenditure on family support services
  • third lowest proportion of expenditure on Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations.

Without change, it is predicted that by 2031 as many as 140 in every 1000 Aboriginal children will be in State care.

Read more about the background to the Inquiry

About the Inquiry

The Inquiry will examine recent and current policies, practices and procedures of State authorities in applying the principle when removing and placing Aboriginal children.

The Commissioner for Aboriginal Children and Young People will conduct the Inquiry.

The Inquiry will start on 30 June 2022 and be completed by 28 July 2023.

The legislative basis for the Inquiry is section 20M of the Children and Young People (Oversight and Advocacy Bodies) Act 2016.

An Aboriginal Advisory Group will guide and support the Inquiry and engagement approach.

ATSICPP Inquiry Terms of Reference

How to get involved

You can get involved by:

  • making a written submission – online, by email or by post
  • attending a community forum
  • having a private session with the Commissioner.

Aboriginal people whose first language is not English can make a submission or participate in a private session in their preferred language.

The Commissioner for Aboriginal Children and Young People will also conduct separate discussions with children and young people in care and other key stakeholders, including government agencies and non-government services.

The Inquiry would like to ensure that anyone can have their say regardless of circumstance. Please contact the Inquiry team to discuss other ways to share your voice.

Advocacy for individual cases

The Inquiry’s role is to look at broad challenges to applying the Aboriginal child placement principle.

If advocacy is needed for an individual case, visit the ‘useful links’ page or contact the Commissioner’s office for advice.

How to make a written submission

The Inquiry welcomes submissions from all members of the Aboriginal community, State authorities, non-government organisations and service providers.

The stories of Aboriginal children, young people, families and community impacted by removal and placement decisions are essential to informing the Inquiry’s findings.

Every submission to the Inquiry will be considered.

Submissions can be made until 5.00pm on Wednesday 30 November 2022:

  • using the online form
  • via email: cacyp_submissions.atsicpp@sa.gov.au
  • via post: GPO Box 1152, Adelaide SA 5001

You will be asked to provide your contact details when making a submission, but your personal details will only be included in public documents with your consent.

Before making a submission

To make sure your submission addresses matters relevant to the Inquiry, you are encouraged to:

Guiding questions for submissions

You can use these questions to guide your submission to the Inquiry:

  • What would you like to tell the Commissioner about your experience with the removal and placement of Aboriginal children in South Australia?
  • How were Aboriginal family and community involved in discussions and decisions about the care and placement of the child(ren)?
  • In your experience what worked well?
  • In your experience what didn’t work well?
  • What do you think can be done to improve things?
  • Is there anything else you would like to tell the Commissioner?

Submit your views online

To make a secure online submission:

  • complete this form
  • make sure you fill out all fields marked with an asterix (*)
  • click submit.

You may also upload a file as part of your submission. The file must be under 25MB. For larger files, please contact the Inquiry team.

Submit your views via email or post

To make a submission via email or post you can use the PDF form:

If you do not wish to use this form, you will need to include the following information as part of your submission:

  • your name and contact details (phone number or email address)
  • whether you are making:
    • an individual submission
    • a submission on behalf of another person
    • a submission on behalf of an organisation, including the name of the organisation and your role.
  • for individual submissions or submissions on behalf of another person, whether:
    • you agree to the submission being made public under your name
    • you agree to the submission being made public anonymously (not naming you)
    • you don’t want the submission to be made public.

Organisations will not be given the option to submit anonymously.

Privacy notice for submissions

This privacy notice explains how the Inquiry team will manage the personal information it collects from you when you make a submission to the Inquiry.

READ THE PRIVACY NOTICE

Privacy notice for submissions

This privacy notice explains how the Commissioner for Aboriginal Children and Young People will manage any personal information collected from you when you make a submission to the Inquiry into the application of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Placement Principle (ATSICPP) in the removal and placement of Aboriginal children in South Australia.

Why are we requesting your personal information?

The Commissioner is seeking submissions to hear about people’s experiences regarding the removal and placement of Aboriginal children.

The personal information of individuals and representatives of organisations is being requested to assist the Commissioner and her office with the management of submissions.

This information will inform the Commissioner’s Inquiry into the application of the ATSICPP in South Australia.

What information are we requesting?

As part of your submission, you will be asked to provide some personal information, including your name, contact details, and relevant population profile information.

Besides your name and contact details, all other personal information requested is entirely optional.

When making an individual submission you will also be asked if you would like to make your submission public.

Who do we disclose your information to?

After receiving your submission, the Commissioner will only use your information for the purposes of the Inquiry.

Your personal information will only be disclosed in public documents if you have given your consent. This will depend on what you elect in your submission.

If you agree to your submission being made public under your name

  • your submission may be referenced in public documents prepared by the Commissioner, for example, our interim or final reports.
  • In these documents, your name and other identifying details about you may be included. However, your contact details including your phone number or address will not be published.
  • Part or parts of your submission may be quoted or paraphrased.

If you agree to your submission being made public anonymously (not naming you)

  • your submission will only be used in our public documents once it has been de-identified.
  • De-identified means that your name and any information or features that would identify you will be removed. Anyone reading the document would not know that it refers to you.
  • Using your information in a de-identified way will help to give the community an understanding about your experiences without identifying you.
  • Part or parts of your submission may be quoted or paraphrased in a de-identified way.

If you do not want your submission to be made public

  • your submission will not be published in any way in any format.
  • This means that we will not refer to the information you have provided to the Commissioner on the website or in any public document in any way other than for statistical analysis (which will not identify you).

Your personal information will not be disclosed to any other party unless you have provided consent or unless the disclosure is required or authorised by or under law.

How will we use your personal information? 

The Commissioner will only use your personal information in a way that is consistent with, and incidental to, the purposes of the Inquiry.

The Inquiry team will examine all submissions to inform the content of the Inquiry report. They will not refer to any specific individuals in the Inquiry report unless you have given consent for your submission to be made public with your name included.

How will your personal information be stored?

On receipt of your personal information, the Inquiry team will store your personal information in a secure database and will take reasonable security measures to protect your personal information from loss, unauthorised access, use, modification, disclosure or other misuse.

Further information and access to your personal information

You have a right to access your personal information and you have a right to request your information be correct.

For more information, please contact the Inquiry team.

 

 

Register to attend a community forum

The Commissioner for Aboriginal Children and Young People will run a series of regional and metropolitan community forums to engage directly with Aboriginal family and community.

Community forums will be hosted in partnership with local ambassadors and will be a chance for Aboriginal people to share their views personally with the Commissioner.

Community forums will be held in:

APY Lands
Berri – 6 September 2022
Ceduna
Coober Pedy
Elizabeth
Gawler
Kadina
Mount Gambier – Completed
Murray Bridge – 24 August 2022
Noarlunga
Oodnadatta
Port Adelaide
Port Augusta
Port Lincoln
Port Pirie
Salisbury
Victor Harbor
Whyalla
Yalata

Community forums will be conducted sensitively and with support available if needed.

If you work for a government agency or service provider, please note that the community forums are designed to capture community voices. Separate sessions will be held for sector stakeholders.

You can register your interest in attending a community forum here:

We will contact you to confirm the date, time and venue.

Follow the Commissioner on Facebook for updates on when community forums will be held in your area.

Private sessions

The Commissioner has a limited number of times available for private sessions to allow you to share your experience in a confidential setting.

Private sessions can happen in person or via telephone or video link.

To express interest in a private session, please call the Inquiry team.

Contact the Inquiry team

The Inquiry team can be contacted during business hours Monday to Friday.