Adoptions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children
The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Placement Principle (ATSICPP) outlines a preference for placing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out-of-home care with Indigenous or non-Indigenous relatives or kin, or in close geographical proximity to their existing family if this cannot be achieved (SNAICC 2017). All states and territories have committed to implement legislation, policy, and practise to ensure compliance with the ATSICPP. Data measuring its application across states and territories are currently reporting through 5 nationally agreed indicators, with more indicators in development (AIHW 2022).
The number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children adopted each year is typically small. In 2021–22:
- 6 Indigenous Australian children had adoption orders finalised as part of a known child adoption, and no Indigenous Australian children were adopted through a local adoption (unpublished data from AIHW Adoptions Australia data collection).
The small number of adoptions of Indigenous children each year make it difficult to identify trends. Since 1997–98:
- 123 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children have been adopted, with 36% adopted by Indigenous Australians, and 64% adopted by other Australians.
- 62% of all adopted Indigenous children were adopted through known child adoptions while 38% were adopted through local adoptions
- 55% of local adoptions and 24% of known child adoptions of Indigenous children over this period involved at least one adoptive parent who identified as Indigenous
- the number of Indigenous children adopted through known child adoptions is increasing, with 34 children adopted between 2017–18 and 2021–22. This is the highest count compared to the previous years, and it has doubled compared to the number of adoptions between 2012–13 and 2016–17 (Figure 6).
Figure 6: Number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander children adopted, by type of adoption, 1997–98 to 2021–22
The vertical bar chart shows a steady increase of known child adoptions for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. From 1997–98 to 2001–02, there were 5 known child adoptions of Indigenous children, increasing to 34 known child adoptions from 2017–18 to 2021–22. Since 2007–08, the number of local adoptions has been smaller than known child adoptions for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.
Note: The Indigenous status of children is not always available for adult adoptees.