Action call to tackle indigenous care crisis
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.
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