Summary

About 18,900 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children were living in out-of-home care at 30 June 2020. This is a rate of 56 per 1,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children (AIHW 2021).

The key findings, for 5 of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Placement Principle (ATSICPP) indicators related to the Placement and Connection elements of the framework, are detailed below.

Placement

Indicator 1.1: 63% of the 18,900 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 0–17 in out-of-home care were living with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander or non-Indigenous relatives or kin or other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander caregivers at 30 June 2020.

The proportion of children in these preferred placement types (the placements numbered 1, 2 and 3 in the placement hierarchy) has been relatively stable since 2017, however there are significant changes in the proportion of children living in the different caregiver types. Between 2017 and 2020, a decreasing proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children were living with other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander carers (from 14% in 2017 to 10% in 2020) and an increasing proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children were living with non-Indigenous relatives or kin (from 16% in 2017 to 21% in 2020). In all jurisdictions except Victoria and Tasmania, children living with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander relatives or kin made up the largest group of children in preferred placements at 30 June 2020.

Connection

Indicator 2.1: 42% of the 18,900 of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 0–17 in out-of-home care were living with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander relatives or kin or other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander caregivers at 30 June 2020, a decrease from 48% in 2017.

There has been a decrease in children living with other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander carers (from 14% in 2017 to 10% in 2010). New South Wales had the highest proportion (50%) of children in out-of-home care living with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander relatives or kin or other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander caregivers of all jurisdictions, while Tasmania had the lowest (15%) at 30 June 2020.

 

Indicator 2.2: 69% of the 16,100 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out-of-home care had (and were required to have) a current, documented and approved cultural support plan at 30 June 2020.

Cultural support plans include details such as the child’s cultural background and actions taken to maintain their connection to culture. Only children required to have cultural support plans, as determined by legislation in each state and territory, are reported in this indicator. 2019–20 is the first year of reporting where data were available across all states/territories.

Indicator 2.3: 15% of the 10,600 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 0–17 in out-of-home care during 2019–20, who were candidates for reunification with  family, were reunified during the year.

Corresponding reunification rates for non-Indigenous children were higher (21%). 2019–20 is the first year of reporting where data were available across all states/territories.

Indicator 2.4: 81% of the 1,500 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 0–16 who were reunified with family during 2018–19, did not return to out-of-home care within 12 months.

Proportions are similar for non-Indigenous children with 84% not returning to out-of-home care within 12 months of reunification. 2019–20 is the first year of reporting where data were available across all states/territories.

Reference

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2021. Child protection Australia 2019–20. Cat. no. CWS 78. Canberra: AIHW. doi:10.25816/g208-rp81.