Today is the 10th Anniversary of the National Apology to the Stolen Generations. That event felt like a landmark day that would signal a new beginning for Australian Aboriginal people. Sadly, in the decade since, things have not substantially changed. The staggering gap in health outcomes and life expectancy between Indigenous & non-Indigenous Australians has not closed. More Aboriginal children are in care across Australia now than during the height of the Stolen Generations.

Aboriginal children are 10 times more likely to be removed than non-indigenous children. Let that figure sink in.

Aboriginal children are 10 times more likely to be removed than non-indigenous children. Let that figure sink in. There are currently 17,000 Aboriginal children in out-of-home Care in Australia – more than twice as many as on the day of the National Apology.

Outgoing Victorian Aboriginal Children’s Commissioner, Andrew Jackomos, called the level of over-representation of Aboriginal children in out-of-home care a “national disaster around the nation” in an interview with the ABC last month, and urged State and Federal Governments to do more.

Non-Indigenous Australians too need to do all we can to educate ourselves about the issues at stake, and to support the Aboriginal community.

We can’t ignore the ongoing pain and trauma in the Aboriginal community that is a direct result of the policy of assimilation & the systematic removal of children from their families. Removed children were institutionalised, and often further traumatised by abuse. They were denied the opportunity to experience loving parents, or have that modelled for them. It is not logical to expect people who lived through this experience to become healthy, well-balanced adults when the issues have never been fully addressed, restitution made or appropriate supports provided. Intergenerational trauma, and a lack of understanding of this, means that children are still being removed, and trauma compounded in indigenous communities.

We support Family Matters, and applaud FACS new focus & investment in early intervention to support Aboriginal families & keep them together. We would like to see even more resources directed towards this very important work.

Tim Ireland, the CEO of Aboriginal peak body AbSec says “What we want to see is our Aboriginal kids thriving: safe in their community, involved with their family, & a strong path for their future.” Despite the Aboriginal Placement Principle, many Aboriginal children in NSW are placed with non-Aboriginal carers. Many of these carers do a wonderful job of supporting and facilitating the cultural learning and connection of the children in their care. It is good, but we want to aim for the best.

We often get comments along the lines that the cultural background of foster carers does not matter, that it is “racist” to even suggest it does, and love is all that is needed. Unfortunately love is not enough for children suffering the effects of intergenerational trauma. Culturally appropriate care and support, and the opportunity to stay within their communities is vital for Aboriginal children who cannot live at home with their parents.

This is why we always focus on the need for more Aboriginal carers to care for the Aboriginal kids in foster care. Aboriginal carers who can keep kids in community & work with Agencies and birth families are invaluable to breaking the cycle of trauma, and safeguarding the future of the kids in their care.

If you are interested to find out more about becoming a carer, or even why cultural care matters, have a look at the Raising Them Strong videos, or watch the Keeping Koori Kids Connected video. You can also have a look at the Aboriginal Agencies available in NSW, or make an enquiry to get started.

Image courtesy of Family Matters