Recommendation 15–1 Acknowledging the high rate of removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children into out-of-home care and the recognised links between out-of-home care, juvenile justice and adult incarceration, the Commonwealth Government should establish a national inquiry into child protection laws and processes affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.
15.3 The ALRC is aware of current, and recent inquires that may encompass a review of child protection laws and processes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, including the Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory, and the 2017 New South Wales Legislative Council Inquiry into Child Protection. The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has also recently reported on out-of-home care, which may include a national response focusing on the reduction of all abuse in that setting. State and territory governments have also developed out-of-home care strategies. However, the ALRC notes that there has not been a national review of the laws and processes operating within the care and protection systems of the various states and territories. The Australian Human Rights Commission expressed support for such a review suggesting ‘it is timely for a national review of the laws and processes operating within the care and protection system of states and territories’.
15.4 In terms of this Inquiry, it is the view of the ALRC that the incarceration rate of adult Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples cannot be fully and satisfactorily addressed without a national review of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in child protection, and the state and territory laws that see such children placed into out-of-home care.
The Royal Commission made 11 separate negative findings in respect of children in out-of-home care in the Northern Territory at ch 33 of its report, 10 separate recommendations in respect of child protection oversight at ch 37 and 7 separate recommendations in respect to changing the approach to child protection in the Northern Territory at ch 39. See Commonwealth, Royal Commission and Board of Inquiry into the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory, Findings and Recommendations (2017) rec 33.1–33.25.
Including the ACT Community Services Directorate Strategy July 2015–June 2020, NSW FACS— Shaping a Better Child Protection System Discussion Paper October 2017.
Australian Human Rights Commission, Submission 43.