Natalie Lewis

Biography

Natalie Lewis is a Gamilaraay yinar and CEO of the Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Protection Peak (QATSICPP). She is the Chair of the national Family Matters campaign and played a major role in influencing the Queensland Government to embed the Family Matters building blocks as the foundation of the Our Way strategy. Natalie was recently appointed to the Queensland First Children and Families Board to provide guidance in the implementation of the strategy.

Abstract

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Placement Principle – NOT JUST ABOUT PLACEMENT (Policy Think Space)

The disproportionate representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out-of-home care continues to be a pervasive feature of statutory child protection systems across Australia. The Human Rights and Equal Opportunities Commission Bringing Them Home Report (HREOC, 1997) highlighted the significant intergenerational impact of Australia’s history, which included the deliberate, systematic removal of Aboriginal children from their families, community and culture. In keeping with the recommendations of the report, consistent with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (Article 8, 2 (a)) and to prevent the recurrence of adverse historical practices, the Queensland Government adopted and implemented the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Placement Principle in 2010.

However, since the commencement of operation of the Queensland Child Placement Principle policy in 2010, the rate of over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in Queensland’s child protection system has continued to escalate. Currently, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children now represent more than 42% of the children and young people in out of home care (DCCSDS, 2017), despite representing less than 5% of Queensland’s youth population.

This session will detail the process undertaken by the Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Protection Peak and SNAICC – National Voice for Our Children in partnership with the executive leadership of the Queensland Department of Child Safety Youth and Women, through influencing both the national policy agenda and the Queensland child protection reform process, to;

RECLAIM the original intent of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Placement Principle,
RECONCEPTUALISE the principle in a contemporary child protection context and,
RELAUNCH the principle as the point of truth in child protection legislation, policy, programs, processes and practices to drive optimal, rights affirming outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in Queensland.

Abstract-Plenary

Children develop and thrive when they live in stable home environments. This is especially critical for children in out-of-home care, who already face environmental and personal stressors. However, evidence shows that significant numbers of children in 2019 are still being moved around the system, putting their wellbeing at risk.

Rising numbers of children in out-of-home care, and concerns about their wellbeing, have led governments across Australia to introduce major reforms. In this reform environment it is essential we ensure that placement stability in out-of-home care remains a priority issue.

In this symposium we will briefly summarise recent research on placement stability and outline how this research is making a mark on policy and practice. We will identify approaches to improving stability such as SNAICC’s Family Matters Report Card and the Permanency Support Program in NSW. Speakers will highlight actions to improve the system for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people and the importance of using data to understand system dynamics and trends. The symposium will identify areas where we are not delivering on stability – and how we can achieve change.

The symposium panel of senior leaders has been chosen to reflect diverse perspectives and expertise from policy, practice, advocacy, research and implementation, as well as for their cross-jurisdictional experience.

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