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.
A series of public hearings have commenced to hear from witnesses across academia, government and the Aboriginal community controlled sector.
The preliminary report, released in October 2023, summarises emerging themes from the Inquiry into the application of the principle in South Australia.
The report reflects the voices of more than 400 Aboriginal children, young people, families and community members and more than 500 sector stakeholders.
The report makes 17 early recommendations to inform the South Australian Government’s proposed reform of the Children and Young People (Safety) Act 2017. Read the report alongside the Commissioner’s submission to the Statutory Review of the Act.
READ THE TRANSCRIPT
INQUIRY PRELIMINARY REPORT – VIDEO SCRIPT
Today, I am releasing a preliminary report from my Inquiry into the removal and placement of Aboriginal children.
Over the past year, the Inquiry has examined how the Aboriginal child placement principle is applied in South Australia.
We have heard the experiences of more than 400 Aboriginal children, families, and Community members.
And from more than 500 people working in child protection and family support services.
One thing is clear – the system is in urgent need of reform.
People told us early support for vulnerable families is lacking.
Decisions about children have limited or no family involvement.
Rates of children placed with Aboriginal family or kin are decreasing.
The State Government is planning legislative changes. NOW is our opportunity to create lasting change.
Aboriginal children are over-represented in child protection at devastating rates.
One in every two Aboriginal children is subject to a child protection notification.
One in every three is subject to an unborn child concern notification.
Aboriginal children comprise 4.5% of the population, but 36% of children on child protection orders.
The challenges for families are often intergenerational, multi-faceted and complex, and the way that the system responds to Aboriginal children and their families is a contributing factor to poor outcomes.
Disconnection from family and culture will only continue the cycle of disadvantage, poverty and trauma.
So this preliminary report outlines some of the emerging themes from the Inquiry and provides recommendations for the Government’s planned amendments to legislation as a pathway forward.
Together, we can support every Aboriginal child to grow up safely within family and Community.
And to stay connected to culture and Country.
It’s the birthright of every Aboriginal child, so let’s work together to make it a reality.
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 commenced on 30 June 2022.
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 guides and supports the Inquiry and engagement approach.
Read more about the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Placement Principle
How to get involved
The stories of Aboriginal children, young people, families and community impacted by removal and placement decisions are essential to informing the Inquiry’s findings.
Ways to get involved:
- making a written submission
- attending a community forum
- attending a sector stakeholder forum
- having a private session with the Commissioner.
The Inquiry has welcomed written submissions from all members of the Aboriginal community, State authorities, non-government organisations and service providers.
The timeframe for written submissions has now closed.
The Commissioner has hosted a number of regional and metropolitan community forums to engage directly with Aboriginal families and community.
APY Lands – 1-4 May 2023 (Private sessions)
Berri – 6 September 2022
Ceduna – 8 November 2022
Coober Pedy – 14 November 2022 (Private sessions)
Gawler – 12 September 2022
Kadina – 14 December 2022
Mount Gambier – 4 August 2022
Murray Bridge – 24 August 2022
Northern Metro (Salisbury) – 15 December 2022
Oodnadatta – 15 November 2022 (Private sessions)
Port Augusta– 30 November 2022
Port Lincoln – 2 November 2022
Port Pirie – 20 September 2022
Southern Metro (Christie Downs) – 15 September 2022
Victor Harbor – 7 December 2022
Western Metro (Port Adelaide) – 17 October 2022
Whyalla – 1 December 2022
Yalata – 14 July 2023 (Private sessions)
The Commissioner has conducted separate discussions with children and young people in care.
Sector Stakeholder Forums
The Commissioner is hosting sector stakeholder forums with government agencies and non-government service providers.
The Commissioner has held a number of private sessions to allow individuals and families to share their experience in a confidential setting.
The timeframe for requesting a private session has now closed.
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.