Placement

Placement element symbolThe Placement element of the ATSICPP sets a hierarchy of preferred options for caregivers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out-of-home care. The hierarchy is designed to ensure the highest possible level of connection to family, community, culture and country is maintained for an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander child in out-of-home care.

The hierarchy of placements is as follows:

  1. With Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander or non-Indigenous relatives or extended family members (kin),
  2. With Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander members of the child’s community; or
  3. With Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander family-based carers.

The 3 options above are preferred placement types. If these preferred options are not available, as a last resort, the child may be placed in:

  1. Another care arrangement (such as with a non-Indigenous carer or in a residential setting).

If the child is not placed with their relatives or kin (that is, level 1 in the hierarchy), the placement should be within close geographic proximity to the child’s family (SNAICC 2018).

Application of the Placement element means fully exhausting all possible options at the highest level of the placement hierarchy before considering options at the next level down. Best practice application of the ATSICPP also includes regular review of placements at lower levels of the hierarchy (e.g. those with non-Indigenous carers who are not relatives or kin, or in residential settings) to enable children to be moved to a higher level placement if circumstances change (e.g. to live with relatives or Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community members).

Measuring Placement

The application of the Placement element can be measured by determining the types of carers Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out-of-home care have been placed with; or more specifically, a carer’s relationship to the child. This is measured by Indicator 1.1.

The stacked bar chart shows the proportions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out-of-home care at 30 June for the years 2017 to 2020 by whether they were living in preferred placements, that is, with relatives, kin or other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander caregivers and by state and territory. The chart shows that the proportion living in preferred placements at 30 June 2020 is 63% and has been relatively stable since 30 June 2017.

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

It should be noted that looking at who a child is eventually placed with is just one way of measuring the application of the Placement element. Application of this element also requires that active efforts are made to find a child’s family, to consult with a child’s family, community representatives and/or Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations, to inform placement decisions and to provide support to carers to maximise the success of the placement while minimising the chance of placement breakdown (SNAICC 2017).

Active efforts also include ensuring that a child’s Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander status is recorded accurately. The coverage of Indigenous status data for children in out-of-home care is generally very high—at 30 June 2020, Indigenous status was unknown for less than 1% of children in out-of-home care nationally. However, it is unknown whether, or to what extent, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are being incorrectly recorded as non-Indigenous. Active efforts to address this and the other issues highlighted are intended to improve the chance that a preferred placement (that is, the placements numbered 1, 2 and 3 in the placement hierarchy) will be found for a child. Indicators relating to some of these active efforts are in development.

References

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.

SNAICC – National Voice for our Children 2018. The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Placement Principle: a guide to support implementation. Melbourne: SNAICC.