Aboriginal Child Protection Business: The Significance of Aboriginal Self-Determination in NSW Child Protection policies

Cynthia Briggs

Abstract


“The right to sustain the cultural identity of Aboriginal children is a commitment to human rights, culture and self-determination” (Bamblett, 2013).

Current NSW child protection statistics suggest that Australia’s Aboriginal babies[1], children and young people are still overwhelmingly the subjects of state intervention, disproportionate to that of other children, despite the ongoing development of new policies, initiatives and programs specifically targeted for this group in the NSW child protection system. Indeed, the statistical count for Aboriginal babies, children and young people involved in the NSW child protection system is reflected in State and Commonwealth child protection welfare data reports across the country. Thus, the ‘problem’ of statistical overrepresentation carries with it serious issues concerning service system failure.

In my paper, I consider the significance of the inclusion of Aboriginal people in determining the development and implementation of Aboriginal child protection policies in the NSW child protection system. Introducing the concept of Aboriginal self-determination in Australia was intended to empower Aboriginal Australians in the management and delivery of Aboriginal affairs or business. Thus, a point of reference for my paper is the belief that an Aboriginal self-determination policy approach would provide ‘cultural substance’ - a term that recognises that all aspects to do with Aboriginal culture is embedded into the life of an Aboriginal person. Underpinning this point of reference is the management of Aboriginal child protection business and how it encapsulates the cultural identity of an Aboriginal baby, child or young person who has been removed from their family.


[1] I include the word ‘babies’ in my writing on Aboriginal child protection for a specific reason. I like to ensure that the language reflects the relevant statistics on the actual ages of the children subject to statutory care removal in Australia. Statistical analysis shows that infants or children under 1 year old (babies) are the age group most likely to be the “subject of a substantiation to be removed from their families across Australia” (AIFS, 2016-17, p. 55).


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References


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Social Work & Policy Studies: Social Justice, Practice and Theory

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