Calls for NSW Aboriginal child and family commissioner in wake of scathing report | Australia news


Aboriginal organisations say it’s no secret that the New South Wales child protection system is failing, as outlined in a scathing report the state’s government had kept under wraps for the past 18 months.

AbSec, the peak organisation for Aboriginal groups working in the system, said the “the lack of transparency around the report has made it impossible for Aboriginal communities to participate fully in reforms”.

Sign up to receive the top stories in Australia every day at noon


“Transparency and accountability must be central, fundamental principles to the child protection system,” the AbSec chief executive, Tim Ireland, said.

The Tune report found the system is “ineffective and unsustainable”, its escalating costs are “crisis-driven”, and it is “failing to improve long-term outcomes for children and families” with complex needs.

Aboriginal children, already over-represented in the system, were the “fastest-growing cohort in out-of-home care”, the Tune report said. More than 7% are in out-of-home care, compared with 1% of all children and young people in NSW.

“The child protection system disproportionately impacts Aboriginal children and families, so it’s critical that Aboriginal communities are engaged and able to have a say,” Ireland said.

• The number of children in out-of-home care has doubled in 10 years due to increases in factors driving demand, like mental health issues, as well as a lack of investment in vulnerable families’ needs before they enter OOHC

• The cost of providing OOHC is growing, with the expanding NGO sector costing significantly more than the government sector

• The government spends a lot on OOHC but it is not well-targeted and there is still significant unmet demand and inefficiency: “Overall, the system is ineffective and unsustainable”

• Millions of dollars’ worth of programs are delivered in agency silos and are not evaluated 

• Outcomes are particularly poor for Aboriginal children and families, who are the highest growing population in OOHC. The number of Aboriginal children being restored to their families has dropped significantly  

• Current programs are not aligned with what children and families need

• Expenditure is crisis-driven, rather than going towards early intervention or family preservation

• “The system is failing to improve the long term outcomes for children and to arrest the devastating cycles of intergenerational abuse and neglect”

• A new entity, a NSW family investment commission, is needed to drive and implement personalised packages for vulnerable children and families

AbSec wants NSW to create an Aboriginal child and family commissioner, who would direct investment in child and family support services, set up a statewide data system to measure needs and effects, and provide early intervention for Aboriginal families.

“Aboriginal children and their needs deserve to be at the top of the priorities list for the next NSW government,” he said.

“We are calling for a new statutory body to focus investment on Aboriginal community-controlled child and family services, led by an Aboriginal child and family commissioner.

“We want to see investment in solutions pioneered and provided by Aboriginal agencies and communities. It is not fair that we should have such little say in a system which so heavily affects our people.”

Side-stepping calls for her resignation over the state of the child protection system, the NSW family and community services minister, Pru Goward, released a statement, saying: “The NSW government is implementing the recommendations of the Tune report, either as framed or by other means.

“There has been a record level of investment to reform the system and support our most vulnerable children and families.”

The minister has promised an additional $59m over four years, 100 more child protection staff and setting a target of more than 1,000 open adoptions in the next four years.



Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *