Greens respond to failures of NSW Government to reduce Aboriginal over-representation in out of home care
1 March 2023 - The Ombudsman’s report Aboriginal Outcomes Strategy focus area 2 (out-of-home care) – were the targets achieved? released yesterday reveals that the Department of Communities and Justice failed to reduce Aboriginal representation in out of home care and did not achieve any of its four targets set out in the five year strategy.
The report outlines DCJ’s effective abandonment of the strategy and its failure to adequately and transparently report on its failures as well as criticising the lack of strategy built into the AOS. The Ombudsman’s report indicates that DCJ stopped reporting on the strategy just two years after it commenced. Launched in 2017, the AOS set targets such as “10% reduction in the number of Aboriginal children in OOHC by 30 June 2020” but did not outline how it would achieve this reduction. As of 30 June 2017, the total number of children in OOHC was 17,803. Aboriginal children made up 38.4% (6,839) and this figure increased to 43.8% as of June 2022.
Greens spokesperson for First Nations Justice Sue Higginson said: “The report is alarming, but sadly it’s not surprising that the NSW Government has once again failed to deliver real outcomes for First Nations children, families and communities across NSW.
“The report describes a completely bungled strategy and then no effort on DCJ’s part to get the strategy back on track or even tell the NSW community that it had failed.
“First Nations children continue to bear the brunt of a racist system that takes them from their kin and Community and then fails to provide the adequate support for families and caregivers as the duty of the state requires.
“The solutions to the challenges First Nations people face already exist in their communities, if only the system empowered and resourced them to design and implement their own strategies for First Nations child protection. We need to see a new strategy centred on self-determination so that First Nations people can make their own decisions about their own children.
“In the next term of Parliament, we need a government that does so much better. We need a government that is committed to implementing all of the recommendations of the Family is Culture Report. We need a circuit breaker and an honest commitment to stop failing First Nations people in this State.” Ms Higginson said.