Reforms to child protection covering Aboriginal children needed
Below is a reasonable account of a problem but where are the ideas for a solution? The basic problem is that young Aborigines are often badly neglected by their families. If the kids survive that, the neglect tends to bring on disrespect of all standards and crime follows from that.
So how are you going to stop child neglect without rehoming the endangered kids? Are you going to have a platoon of white people to waggle reproving fingers at neglectful Aboriginal parents? Or are you going to take their grog off them? It's all been tried before, I am afraid.
And how are you going to stop extensive lawbreaking? I don't know how, nor, it would seem, do the do-gooders below. Much has been tried already so anything coming out of the report below will most likely just be a reinvention of the wheel
If black lives really mattered in Australia, every cog of the child protection system would be reformed to stop Aboriginal children being removed from family, culture and country.
That's the belief of Megan Davis, University of NSW law professor and United Nations expert on the rights of Indigenous peoples.
"All the narratives we tell ourselves about Australian fairness and the rule of law fly out the window in so far as the treatment of the Aboriginal families in the system," said Professor Davis, who is also Balnaves chair in constitutional law and the pro-vice-chancellor Indigenous UNSW.
With 17,979 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and youth in care across Australia, and nearly 5493 in NSW, next year's Closing the Gap goals are expected to include for the first time a commitment to reduce the number of Aboriginal children entering care by 5 per cent a year. By 2031, it will pledge to cut the number of those in care by 45 per cent.
Professor Davis said a review of Aboriginal children in out-of-home-care (OOHC) in NSW that she chaired had "not validated the popular narrative that children are removed justifiably".
"Out-of-home-care can exacerbate the disadvantage of Aboriginal young people which many would find counter-intuitive because most people assume removing children is in their best interests," Professor Davis said.
She was sure the NSW community was also unaware of the "very direct line from child protection to youth detention and incarceration".
Professor Davis' examination of 1144 Aboriginal children and youth who entered OOHC in 2015/2016 found problems in "every cog of the giant, complex 'system'."
Aboriginal children were eight times more likely to enter care than non-Indigenous children, and they constitute 40 cent of the nearly 14,000 NSW children in care.
Half of the children were deemed to be at risk of significant harm by the time they turned five, and one-in-10 before they were born.
Once in care, very few would return to their families, said the review. Children were often distanced from relatives and taken off country and isolated from culture.
"These are our children, this isn't a marginal issue," said Richard Weston, the chief executive of SNAICC – the peak group representing children and families. "They are the ones who will ensure that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people will survive."
Some people called these children another Stolen Generation, he said, because of the procession of children who "graduated" from out of home care into the juvenile justice system and then into adult prison.
Professor Davis' report, titled Family is Culture, was given to the NSW Government last November, and Indigenous groups are lobbying for a response before the end of the financial year.
On a post on the UNSW website on Saturday morning, Professor Davis urged the government to respond saying the report "can't be left on a bench to gather dust". She called on the Government to implement "all the recommendations as a matter of priority".
NSW Minister for Families, Communities and Disability Services Gareth Ward said the recommendations were being considered carefully. It is understood a comprehensive response will be made soon.
Chief executive of the Aboriginal Legal Service in NSW/ACT Karly Warner said the Black Lives Matter protests had shown there was real understanding by the public that systemic racism was wrong and there was an appetite for change.
But there had to be an appetite for change from those in leadership. "There can't be equality until we change the system," she said.
Ms Warner said she heard stories every week about young people "who are arrested and forced into the quick sands of juvenile justice because of the over-scrutiny and policing of residential care homes."
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