Children in out-of-home care in the East Kimberley: How the child protection system is failing Aboriginal communities

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Sarah Crosby


Aboriginal children, Child protection services, Child Placement Principle, Intergenerational trauma, Child removal


Since the introduction of child welfare legislation in Australia in the early colonial era, the separation of Aboriginal children from their parents has extended over several generations leading to significant displacement and intergenerational trauma. Today, there continues to be a significant overrepresentation of Aboriginal children in the welfare system, and Western Australia has the highest rate of Aboriginal children in out-of-home care nationally. This paper will discuss the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Placement Principle and the difficulties associated with its implementation, particularly in the East Kimberley. The main conclusion drawn from this paper is that there is a need to rethink the interaction between child protection services and Aboriginal children, families, and communities. There is a need for culturally appropriate practices and consultation with communities to address systemic problems and disadvantages. Increased funding for Aboriginal-controlled organisations and a focus on strength-based rather than deficit-driven systems would go a long way towards addressing the over-representation of Aboriginal children in out-of-home care.

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