Queensland is leading the nation in efforts to reduce the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out-of-home care, according to the latest Family Matters Report Card 2022.
Minister for Children Leanne Linard welcomed the report, released nationally by Secretary of National and Islander Child Care (SNAICC), which shows Queensland is the only state with positive ratings across all four Family Matters Building Blocks.
“I’m proud of the efforts we are making with First Nations families and communities to eliminate the disproportionate representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families in the state’s child protection system. But I also acknowledge the long journey that still lies ahead,” Ms Linard said.
“We remain resolute in our commitment to implement the Our Way strategy in partnership with Family Matters Queensland, the Queensland First Children and Families Board and the Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Protection Peak to ensure First Nations children grow up safe and cared for in family, community and culture.
“We are determined to reduce the number of First Nations children in residential care, increase the number of children placed with kin, and transition all services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled organisations over the next decade.
“Everyone has a role to play in keeping Queensland’s First Nations children safe and I am grateful for the genuine partnerships we have with so many of our partners in this work.”
The Family Matters Report states Queensland is the first jurisdiction to enshrine all five elements of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Placement Principle in legislation and to commit to a whole-of-government, generational strategy to eliminate over-representation of First Nations children in out-of-home care.
It also shows Queensland is leading the nation in its budget allocation to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled organisations for the delivery of family support and intensive family support services.
In 2022–23, the government is investing $43.4 million in these organisations to deliver Family Wellbeing Services in 34 locations. These services provide early support to families so children can grow up safely, surrounded by kin, community, and culture.
To date, the Queensland Government has invested an estimated $535.48 million to address disproportionate representation across 10 years from 2016–17 to 2025–26.
“I’m also proud of the work being done to implement delegated authority, which enables functions and powers usually provided by the department for a First Nations child to be delegated to the CEO of an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander entity,” Ms Linard said.
“This is about creating systemic change, enabling greater self-determination and a fundamental shift in how child protection, family support and other services work with, and for, Queensland’s First Nations families.”
Ms Linard said while Queensland had one of the lowest rates of disproportionate representation in Australia, remaining steady at around 44 per cent, this was still unacceptable.
“Our data shows 57 per cent of First Nations children are either placed with kin, or an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander carer or residential care service,” she said.
“We are working hard to increase this figure, as we know it’s important for children in care to remain connected to their community and culture.
“We know we have to change the way we design and deliver services and deliver support for First Nations children and families, and we are doing this.
“We are all determined to give First Nations children the same opportunities and outcomes as non-Indigenous children, and I believe our work and partnerships are putting us on the right path.”