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Australia's anguish: the Indigenous kids trapped behind bars

In a new series, Childhood in custody, Guardian Australia investigates the overrepresentation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in juvenile justice and examines how the system operates – by telling the personal stories of those who live and work in it ‘Hell scared’: how a terrified homeless boy found himself locked up alone in the ‘hole’ by Lorena Allam and Laura Murphy-Oates On an average night in 2019, there were 949 children behind bars in Australia – more than half of them were Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander. Of all 10-year-olds incarcerated, 80% were Aboriginal children. Aboriginal kids make up only 6% of all 10- to 17-year-olds in Australia but they are 54% of the juvenile detention population. They are jailed at 22...

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Victoria puts Aboriginal people in driving seat of child protection reform

Victorian Minister for Child Protection Luke Donnellan announced $11.6 million for a national first pilot program which empowers Aboriginal-led teams to respond to child protection reports. Announced during the online Aboriginal Children’s Forum last Thursday, the programs will allow the teams from Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations (ACCOs) to work alongside the Department of Health and Human Services to support Aboriginal families within the child protection and care services system. The Victorian 2020-21 budget recently invested $85.8 million over four years which will expand the Wungurilwil Gapgapduir: Aboriginal Children and Families Agreement — the first ever tripartite agreement between the Aboriginal community, child and family services sector and the Government. The investment designated $44.2 million to enable the Aboriginal Children in Aboriginal Care (ACAC)...

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Indigenous children in ACT not actively reunited with family after being taken into care, report finds

The ACT government has failed to tackle systemic racism within the Community Services Directorate and does not actively try to reunify Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children with their families after they are taken into care, a recent report concludes. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children were 12.9 times more likely to be in out-of-home care than non-Indigenous children in the ACT, which is above the national average of 9.6 times more likely. The ACT has the third highest rate of over-representation in Australia. But family group conferencing, which offers Indigenous families the chance to hold a conference with child protection workers when important decisions are made about their child's future, prevented 54 children from entering care. Between November 2017, when the...

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How our most troubled young people are falling through the cracks … and some possible answers

By RAINER CHLANDA Images by TAMARA CORNTHWAITE In the most extreme cases, troubled young people in Alice Springs can be surrounded by a dizzying number of services: they may have a primary case manager with an NGO; a bed and an assigned worker at ASYASS; a youth outreach worker (YORET) managing their parole amongst a case-load of 30 or so; they may be in a domestic violence program with Tangentyere and a substance misuse program with DASA; they may have St Joe’s College attempting an at-home pickup every day; be in a diversionary program with The Gap Youth Centre; be seeing a psychologist at Congress; and have a Territory Families Child Protection Case Worker that oversees all of this from afar....

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Family Matters: Indigenous kids still over-represented in out of home care

The latest Family Matters report has revealed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are still being removed from their families at an 'alarming' rate. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children were almost 10 times more likely than non-Indigenous children to be in out of home care in 2019, according to the latest Family Matters report. The annual report showed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are 37 per cent of the children removed from their parents, despite being just six per cent of the population of children in Australia. Family Matters chair Sue-Anne Hunter told NITV News the rise in numbers is, unfortunately, not surprising. "We're not addressing the underlying issues," the Wurundjeri and Ngurai illum wurrung woman said. "The...

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