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Local adoption report published: A time to recommit to the best interests and cultural rights of Indigenous children

Published: 27 November 2018

The Australian Association of Social Workers’ (AASW) submission to the Federal Government’s review into local adoptions has been cited in the report which was published yesterday, Breaking barriers: a national adoption framework for Australian children.

AASW National President Christine Craik said, “The report marks an important time for governments to refocus and recommit to upholding the best interests of children in all adoption matters.

“Children and young people in the care of the State are amongst the most vulnerable members of society. Adoption must only be considered when all other options for the child’s safety and wellbeing have been expertly assessed as not suitable.”

AASW Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Representative Director, Linda Ford said, “In ensuring their safety and wellbeing, attention must be paid to the child’s holistic needs. When working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, the AASW contends that planning must be culturally appropriate, with a focus upon the child maintaining connection with their family, culture and other significant relationships.

“With the rate of removal of Indigenous children being 10 times that of non-Indigenous children, the pain and trauma of removal of Indigenous children cannot be consigned to the past.

“The system’s focus upon punitive removal measures has profound negative consequences, severing family and cultural ties, intensifying transgenerational trauma and contributing to the ongoing dispossession, disadvantage and oppression experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.

“For cases where removal is in the best interests of the child, systemic change is needed to address barriers and lack of support available to Aboriginal families that could foster or adopt. Areas for change include the need to amend the inherent bias and discrimination in application forms that demand a certain literacy and education level for applicants. Factors such as these do not determine an individual’s capacity to provide a safe and caring home.”

Ms Craik said, “It is governments’ responsibility to support families to live in safe environments, stopping the risk of abuse and neglect before it arises.

“With 17 per cent of total child protection funding on family support services for children and their families, compared with 83 per cent on child protection services, the AASW calls on the government to focus efforts on early intervention and family support that are built on partnership and collaboration with Indigenous communities.”

The AASW calls on governments to commit and redirect funding to supporting and working with Indigenous communities and families to ensure the rights and needs of every child is upheld.

The AASW represents over 10,000 professional social workers from around Australia, many of whom work in child protection.

Christine Craik and Linda Ford are available for interview.


Media contact
Angela Yin
Communications Lead
P 03 9320 1005 M 0413 532 954

AASW - Australian Association of Social Workers