Supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Families to Stay Together from the Start (SAFeST Start): Urgent call to action to address crisis in infant removals

Catherine Chamberlain, Paul Gray, Debra Bennet, Alison Elliott, Marika Jackomos, Jacynta Krakouer, Rhonda Marriott, Birri O'Dea, Julie Andrews, Shawana Andrews, Caroline Atkinson, Judy Atkinson, Alex Bhathal, Gina Bundle, Shanamae Davies, Helen Herrman, Sue Anne Hunter, Glenda Jones-Terare, Cathy Leane, Sarah MaresJennifer McConachy, Fiona Mensah, Catherine Mills, Janine Mohammed, Lumbini Hetti Mudiyanselage, Melissa O'Donnell, Elizabeth Orr, Naomi Priest, Yvette Roe, Kristen Smith, Catherine Waldby, Helen Milroy, Marcia Langton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Reducing the rate of over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out-of-home care (OOHC) is a key Closing the Gap target committed to by all Australian governments. Current strategies are failing. The “gap” is widening, with the rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in OOHC at 30 June 2020 being 11 times that of non-Indigenous children. Approximately, one in five Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children entering OOHC each year are younger than one year. These figures represent compounding intergenerational trauma and institutional harm to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and communities. This article outlines systemic failures to address the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander parents during pregnancy and following birth, causing cumulative harm and trauma to families, communities and cultures. Major reform to child and family notification and service systems, and significant investment to address this crisis, is urgently needed. The Family Matters Building Blocks and five elements of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Placement Principle (Prevention, Participation, Partnerships, Placement and Connection) provide a transformative foundation to address historical, institutional, well-being and socioeconomic drivers of current catastrophic trajectories. The time for action is now.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)252-273
Number of pages22
JournalAustralian Journal of Social Issues
Volume57
Issue number2
Early online dateJan 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2022

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