The Aboriginal Child Placement Principle Puts Children's Safety First

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10th February 2010, 07:39pm - Views: 1022

People Feature Secretariat Of National Aboriginal And Islander Child Care (SNAICC) 2 image

Secretariat of National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care Inc.

Suite 8, Level 1, 252–260 St Georges Rd, North Fitzroy VICTORIA 3068


Immediate Release 

Wednesday 10 February 2010

The Aboriginal Child Placement Principle puts children’s safety first

“The Aboriginal Child Placement Principle – a policy to protect Aboriginal or Torres

Strait Islander children’s connections to their family and culture – should not be blamed

for the failures of child protection systems to keep children safe in foster care,” Steve

Larkins, Chairperson of SNAICC, said today.

“An Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander child’s involvement with their family and

community is highly important, but never more important than their safety – the

Aboriginal Child Placement Principle is very clear about this. It is wrong to blame the

Principle for poor decision making by under-resourced and poorly trained child

protection departments in the Northern Territory or elsewhere,” said Mr Larkins,

Chairperson of the Secretariat of National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care, the

country’s peak body for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.

“Recent criticisms in the media of the Aboriginal Child Placement Principle, particularly

concerning child protection failures in the Northern Territory, are misinformed because

they fail to acknowledge that the principle never condones making an unsafe foster

placement for a child,” Mr Larkins said.

“Maintaining connections to family and community is not a justification for leaving a

child at risk of harm or making a placement that puts them at risk of harm and well-

trained child protection staff should know this.” 

“It has been poor decision making by an under-resourced and poorly trained Northern

Territory child protection department that compromises children’s safety through poor

placement planning and support – not the Aboriginal Child Placement Principle,” Mr

Larkins said.

“We have seen numerous reports and inquiries into the child protection system in the

Northern Territory and we know what is needed to protect children – they have all called

for better resources and training for child protection workers and the department there.”

Mr Larkins continued, “Even allowing that the complexities of many communities makes

the job of protection children’s safety very difficult, more can be done and done better.

SNAICC advocates for greater involvement of Aboriginal communities in designing and

managing – and being responsible for – the child protections systems that are developed

in their communities.”

“Aboriginal community-controlled child welfare agencies successfully provide safe and

culturally strong foster care across the country. From our perspective, foster placements

within the Aboriginal community are the most stable and successful, provided these are

carefully chosen and well resourced and supported,” Mr Larkins said.

“The National Child Protection Framework recently endorsed by COAG identified

strengthening compliance with the Aboriginal Child Protection System in all jurisdictions

as a priority. Governments must step up and put resources behind this priority so that

child protection departments are well resourced to implement the principle properly and

safeguard children’s safety and wellbeing in foster care,” Mr Larkins said.

For information and media comment: Frank Hytten, SNAICC CEO – 0432 345 652

OR 03-9489 8099 (BH)

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