Connection

Connection element symbolThe Connection element of the ATSICPP relates to support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out-of-home care to maintain or re-establish connections to their family, community, culture and country. This element is considered especially relevant for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children placed with non-Indigenous carers (SNAICC 2017).

Measuring Connection

Connection covers a broad range of actions and supports that can facilitate the maintenance or re-establishment of connection to culture. This can include living with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander carers (measured in Indicator 2.1), the creation and maintenance of cultural support plans (measured in Indicator 2.2) and efforts to enable a child to safely return to their family (a process referred to as reunification) (measured in Indicators 2.3 and 2.4).

The charts shows Connection element indicators, namely, living with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander carers (measured in Indicator 2.1), the creation and maintenance of cultural support plans (measured in Indicator 2.2) and efforts to enable a child to safely return to their family (a process referred to as reunification) (measured in Indicators 2.3 and 2.4) by state and territory. The chart shows that the proportion living with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander carers at 30 June 2020 is 42% nationally and there has been a decrease in the proportion of children in these placement types since 2017 (48%) nationally.

Source: AIHW Child Protection Data Collection

See the supplementary data tables for further information and footnotes about these data. See the background information and technical specifications document for information on counting rules for this indicator.

Explanatory notes

Indicator 2.1

Indicator 2.1 provides a proxy measure of connection to culture for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. Being placed with an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander caregiver is more likely to improve the prospects of a child to have the ability and opportunities to maintain a cultural connection than placement with non-Indigenous relatives or kin. However, this indicator is not intended to suggest that placement with non-Indigenous kin is never desirable or in the best interests of a particular child.

Indicator 2.2

Cultural support plans are individualised and, at least, annually reviewed plans or agreements created to develop and maintain a child’s connection to family, community, culture and country. Each jurisdiction has a state-specific cultural support plan template and related development process as well as a local definition of what is required for a plan to be considered complete and/or approved.

Legislation in each state and territory determines whether children are required to have cultural support plans. Only children required to have cultural support plans are reported in this indicator.

This indicator does not measure the quality of cultural support plans or whether the plan covers the 5 elements of the ATSICPP. In addition to this indicator, which measures the number of completed plans, other indicators relating to the quality of cultural support plans are in development.

Indicator 2.3

Reunification is a planned process of safely enabling a child to return to their birth parents, family or former guardian. For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, this can mean potentially re-establishing the closest possible connection to their family, community and culture, especially for those children who were placed with non-Indigenous caregivers who are not relatives or kin. Note that there is no national definition of reunification and each jurisdiction has reported based on their local definition.

Indicator 2.4

While reunifications only occur where it is judged to be in the child’s best interests, a reunification occurring does not guarantee that a child will not return to out-of-home care. 

Connection indicators under development

The following indicators are currently under development under Connection,

Number Indicator
Under development

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out-of-home care with documented genograms​

Under development

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out-of-home care living with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander relative or kin for the first time

Under development

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out-of-home care who were reconnected to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander relatives and kin through placement change

Under development

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out-of-home care who were reconnected to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander relatives and kin through placement change and remained with relatives for 12 months or more

Under development Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out-of-home care with cultural support plans that include the child’s cultural background
Under development Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out-of-home care with cultural support plans that include actions for the maintenance of the child’s culture
Under development Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children who were reunified with their birth parents
Under development Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children who were reunified with their relatives or kin

Reference

SNAICC – National Voice for our Children 2017. Understanding and applying the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Placement Principle: a resource for legislation, policy, and program development. Melbourne: SNAICC.