More First Nation kids placed in Qld care

·2-min read

The number of Indigenous Australian children in Queensland's child protection system has surged by more than 20 per cent, according to the state's Family and Child Commission.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander kids are also staying in care for longer, data analysed by the Queensland Family and Child Commission (QFCC) shows.

The report reveals the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in residential care increased 21.7 per cent between 2019-20 and 2020-21.

The number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out-of-home care in Queensland also surged by 7.6 per cent.

While the number of children entering the system has increased, the report also reveals they remain in care for longer.

QFCC commissioner and Gamilaraay woman Natalie Lewis said the trend was deeply concerning with the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children within Queensland's statutory child protection system increasing at every point.

"Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are remaining in care for longer periods of time, with the number of children staying in care for between two and five years increasing by 14.5 per cent between 2019-20 and 2020-21, and the number in care for longer than five years increasing by almost five per cent."

A disproportionate number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children were reported to Child Safety, Ms Lewis said.

"In 2020-21, 15.6 per cent of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in Queensland had a report recorded about them ... 63 per cent were unsubstantiated," Ms Lewis said.

However, the report shows a slight increase in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children returning home, with 172 out of almost 5000 in care children successfully reunited with their parents.

Ms Lewis said reducing the over-representation of Indigenous children in the child protection system must be prioritised.

"We need to see more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children exiting care than entering, a reduction in the time a child spends in care and more reunifications with their family."

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