ABC in 2006 aired a show that alleged significant child sexual abuse among Australian Aboriginal communities .
In response, the Australian government commissioned an investigation into child sexual abuse in the Northern Territory. That, in turn, resulted in controversial legislation known as “the intervention”. Many believe this did more harm than good.
The risk of Child Protection System involvement for Aboriginal children in Australia between 1986 and 2017 was some 7 times that of non-Aboriginal children . Much of this was due to the extreme poverty in which Aboriginal communities lived. Illness, drug addiction, and violence were related issues.
Racial bias on the part of government officials often led to harsh policies.
As a result:
- Aboriginal children were more than twice as likely as non-Aboriginal children to experience high levels of distress.
- Aboriginal children were less likely than non-Aboriginal children to receive formal education, and 18 times more likely to be admitted to youth detention.
- Aboriginal children had a shorter life expectancy than non-Aboriginal children (boys 10.8 years less, girls 8.6 years less).
To its credit, the government of Queensland in 2017 committed to a 20-year strategy to correct the over-representation of Aboriginal children in the Child Protection System .
Titled “Our Way”, the strategy is meant to assure that Aboriginal children grow up safe and cared for in their communities of origin [4A]. Parents (with support from families and communities) are acknowledged to have primary responsibility for raising their children and keeping them safe.
An Action Plan has been created, and standards established [4B]. Equally important, families are to be provided the necessary resources to adhere to those standards. One hundred and fifty million dollars is to be invested over 5 years in community-run organizations.
Historically, 43.5% of Aboriginal children in the Child Protection System had not been placed with other family members.
The goal now is to use Aboriginal organizations to identify and support Aboriginal kinship while recruiting Aboriginal foster caregivers, so that children can stay connected to family, culture, and community, even if they must be removed to the Child Protection System .
 ABC News, “Sexual abuse reported in Indigenous communities”, 6/21/06 (last updated 6/16/07), https://www.abc.net.au/news/2006-06-21/sexual-abuse-reported-in-indigenous-communities/1783574
 ScienceDirect, Child Abuse & Neglect, Vol. 97, November 2019, “Lifetime risk of child protection system involvement in South Australia for Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal children, 1986-2017 using linked administrative data” by Leon Segal, et al, https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0145213419303229.
 Queensland Government, Dept. of Child Safety, Youth and Women, “Strategy and action plan for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families”, 6/21/17 (last modified 7/6/17), https://www.csyw.qld.gov.au/campaign/supporting-families/background/strategy-action-plan-aboriginal-torres-strait-islander-children-families.
[4A and 4B] Queensland Government, Resources, “Our Way – A generational strategy for Aboriginal and Torres Islander children and families (2017-2037)”, https://www.csyw.qld.gov.au/resources/campaign/supporting-families/our-way.pdf.
 Queensland Government, Resources, “Changing Tracks – An action plan for Aboriginal and Torres Islander children and families (2017-2019)”, https://www.csyw.qld.gov.au/resources/campaign/supporting-families/changing-tracks.pdf.
 Northern Territory Government, Territory Families, “Children Safe, Family Together”, July 2019, https://territoryfamilies.nt.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0006/722598/Tangentyere-Children-Safe,-Family-Together.pdf.
Wishing you all a Happy Thanksgiving!
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