For release: Thursday 10 November 2022
Community Legal Centres NSW offers our full-hearted support to the Aboriginal Legal Service NSW/ACT and AbSec in calling for the NSW Government to end the over-representation of Aboriginal children in out-of-home care.
The 2019 Family is Culture Independent Review of Aboriginal Children and Young People in Out-of-Home Care (FIC Review) was the largest, most comprehensive, independent, Aboriginal-led review of the NSW child protection system. In the face of a discriminatory and harmful system, the FIC Review created a roadmap for structural reform, built upon the foundations of Aboriginal self-determination and accountability.
The Aboriginal Legal Service NSW/ACT and AbSec, the peak organisation for Aboriginal children and families in NSW, have today released a Report Card that provides an Aboriginal community perspective on how the NSW Government is tracking in its implementation of the FIC Review recommendations.
The Report Card presents a damning picture of limited progress, deferral, community side-lining, and a watering down of the spirit of self-determination and accountability embodied in the FIC Review. The Report Cards outlines:
In the three years since 2019, the NSW Government has not given a public commitment to fully implement all 126 FIC review recommendations.
While some positive progress has been made in legislative reform, there remains significant concerns with the substance of the Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Amendment (Family is Culture) Bill 2022, particularly in the watering-down of the core pillars of self-determination, public accountability, and oversight.
Funding for implementation of the FIC Review recommendations has been piecemeal and inadequate.
The NSW Government has dominated and determined the process of developing policy and legislation, making engagement with Aboriginal families, children, communities and Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations is often an ‘afterthought’. This has marginalised and excluded Aboriginal people from having a say on reforms that will have life-changing impacts on children and communities.
“Only when Aboriginal communities are making decisions about FIC implementation will we see real progress on implementing FIC holistically and ending the over-representation of Aboriginal children in out-of-home care. Our communities know what is needed – it is time for the NSW Government to listen,” the Report reads.
At present, the NSW Government is twelve times more likely remove Aboriginal children from their family and place them in in out-of-home care when compared to non-Aboriginal children.
Community Legal Centres NSW stands in solidarity with the Aboriginal Legal Service NSW/ACT and AbSec in calling for
An overarching FIC implementation plan mutually agreed by Aboriginal Legal Service NSW/ACT, AbSec and the Department of Communities and Justice, with clear targets, timeframes and accountabilities, and which reflects community priorities for implementation.
A FIC Aboriginal community and stakeholder strategic engagement plan, mutually agreed by Aboriginal Legal Service NSW/ACT, AbSec and the Department of Communities and Justice (including planning for consultations on the next phase of FIC legislative reforms).
A monitoring and quality assurance process to oversee FIC implementation, mutually agreed by Aboriginal Legal Service NSW/ACT, AbSec and the Department of Communities and Justice.
Aboriginal children, families and communities have the right to live in thriving communities, connected to culture and Country, free from the threat of state child removals. It is time for urgent action.