Ac­tion call to tackle in­dige­nous care cri­sis

Pilbara News - - News - Kelly Bell

Child Pro­tec­tion Min­is­ter He­len Mor­ton has called on the com­mu­nity, all lev­els of gov­ern­ment and non-gov­ern­ment agen­cies to work to­gether to ad­dress the over-rep­re­sen­ta­tion of in­dige­nous chil­dren in State care.

The call to ac­tion came as sta­tis­tics re­vealed 97 per cent of chil­dren in the care of the Depart­ment of Child Pro­tec­tion and Fam­ily Sup­port in the Pil­bara were in­dige­nous.

At June 30, of the 211 Pil­bara chil­dren in care, 204 or 97 per cent were Abo­rig­i­nal, rep­re­sent­ing 8 per cent of the re­gion’s Abo­rig­i­nal child pop­u­la­tion.

The Pil­bara had the third­high­est per­cent­age of in­dige­nous chil­dren in care be­hind East Kim­ber­ley (100 per cent) and West Kim­ber­ley (98 per cent) with the State av­er­age sit­ting at about 52 per cent.

At 204, the Pil­bara and the Perth area of Can­ning­ton have the high­est num­ber of in­dige­nous chil­dren in care.

Last week, shadow min­is­ter for child pro­tec­tion Stephen Daw­son la­belled the high num­ber of Abo­rig­i­nal chil­dren in the Pil­bara in State care a “dis­grace”.

He called on Ms Mor­ton to do more to pre­vent chil­dren be­ing taken into care, which he said should be a last re­sort.

“These num­bers are a damn­ing in­dict­ment on the Bar­nett Gov­ern­ment’s claims they are in­vest­ing in early in­ter­ven­tion to break the cy­cles of abuse and ne­glect that puts kids in care,” he said.

In re­sponse, Ms Mor­ton said ad­dress­ing the over-rep­re­sen­ta­tion of Abo­rig­i­nal chil­dren in child pro­tec­tion ser­vices was a na­tional chal­lenge that needed to be met by a con­certed ef­fort from all lev­els of gov­ern­ment, non-gov­ern­ment agen­cies and the com­mu­nity work­ing along­side in­dige­nous fam­i­lies.

She said the ma­jor­ity of Abo­rig­i­nal chil­dren taken into care were placed with their ex­tended fam­ily, Abo­rig­i­nal com­mu­nity or other Abo­rig­i­nal peo­ple.

Ac­cord­ing to the depart­ment, although the over­all num­ber of WA chil­dren go­ing into care had con­tin­ued to grow since 2007-08, the av­er­age growth had al­most halved since the in­tro­duc­tion of the Signs of Safety frame­work in 2007.

Ms Mor­ton said Statewide strate­gies were be­ing im­ple­mented to im­prove out­comes for Abo­rig­i­nal fam­i­lies and chil­dren.

“This in­cludes the Signs of Safety Abo­rig­i­nal Way, pre-hear­ing con­fer­ences and pre-birth process hand­book and map, and a lead­er­ship course for Abo­rig­i­nal and non-Abo­rig­i­nal staff mem­bers,” she said.

Pic­ture: Peter de Krui­jff

Way­lon Cop­pin, Mariah Reed, Lara Parker, Eleanor Killen, Nathan Evans, and Kenny Diamond will re­ha­bil­i­tate the sand dune near Hear­son’s Cove.

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