Saturday, November 27, 2021

First nation children are still being removed at disproportionate rates. Cultural perceptions about parenting need to change

Australia has a history of injustice in child protection practices that disproportionately target and harm First Nation children, families and communities.

As a result, contemporary child protection systems and related businesses have sought to distance themselves from explicitly racist past policies and practices by apologizing for their past involvement in stolen generations and committing to change.

Yet child protection systems continue to operate on assumptions about race and class that exacerbate inequalities and injustice against First Nations families.

In a Queensland study published in 2018, which used data from 2010–2011, Indigenity was compared to a rating of ‘high risk’ on the Child Safety Risk Assessment Tool, a slew of subsequent child safety reports and investigations. The prophet was found.”

Another study in Western Australia found that, when controlling for all other factors, aboriginality nearly doubled the risk of infant removal.

Understandings of risk, child abuse and neglect are often biased in favor of white middle-class parenting practices. This can lead to over-vigilance of First Nations families, and a flawed notification system.



Read more: Government’s theft generation prevention plan is fragmentary and unrealistic


First Nations styles of parenting are disregarded or considered unsafe

According to University of Utah academic Audrey Thompson, “Whiteness theory treats whiteness not as a biological category but as a social construct.” White social constructs often inform key decision-making in child protection practice and policies. This is because legislators and decision-makers about child protection are often white. However, the families disproportionately affected by these decisions are often indigenous.

Consequently, white constructions also inform the baseline for good parenting practices in Australian child protection services. Essentially, Australian child protection systems were built around white, middle class standards of parenting. This means that they often overlook cultural differences in how children are raised.

For example, many First Nations families share their children collectively, along with resources – such as food and housing – among members of the family, kinship and community.

The recent documentary The Department tells the story of First Nations woman Stacy and her struggles to get her children back in her care.

The size of Stacy’s home was seen by child protection services as a hindrance. Stacy followed the department’s guidelines, which included moving to a larger four-bedroom home. Despite her having two children in her care, the film ends with Stacy caring for three of her children out of the house.

Another case was of a First Nations woman who took her child from him through Child Protection. According to The Guardian, the chief executive officer of the First People’s Health and Wellbeing Clinic said the initial assessment of this mother was culturally inappropriate.

This ignorance of Indigenous parenting methods could contribute to out-of-home care for 20,077 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children as of 30 June 2019. According to the Family Matters report, this represents one in every 16.6 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. Children living in Australia.



In 2019-20, the confirmation rate for First Nations child neglect (31.8%) was far higher than for non-Indigenous children (18.2%), and the confirmation rate for sexual abuse was lower.

The understanding of neglect and emotional abuse is subject to interpretation by child protection practitioners. These interpretations may be based on social and cultural values ​​that are often incompatible with collective child-rearing, and do not account for the effects of material poverty when raising children.



Read more: Thirteen years after ‘Sorry’ many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are still being evicted from their homes


Families facing punishment for support

Currently, child protection services often punish and blame individuals for their “failure” or risk. Genuine support, with a focus on addressing the drivers of child protection partnerships, remains lacking.

For First Nations families, these drivers include poverty, housing issues, racism, trauma, mental health concerns, domestic and family violence, and alcohol and other drug abuse.

Rather than providing aid to First Nations families who are in dire circumstances – such as financial aid – the response of child protection systems has remained coercive, controlling and punitive.

For example, causes of emotional abuse may include children witnessing domestic and family violence. Rather than providing a way for victims of domestic and family violence (often women and children) to live together, there is often a process of removing children.

No attention is paid to the structures that drive these problems. Instead, the blame is placed on the affected person.

As Dereka Purnell, lawyer and author of Being Abolitionists argued, the child protection system in the United States is based on the failure of individuals to “protect” and supply their children with certain provisions. However, parents get limited support from these services to feed, dress and supply their children with the necessary resources for the household.

The same flaws exist in Australia’s child protection systems.

a flawed information system

The increased involvement of child protection agencies with First Nations families contributes to a damaging perception among those who report issues to child protection (teachers, health professionals, police and the general public) that First Nations families surveyed are more likely to report issues to others. more than should be done.

This becomes a vicious cycle, contributing to an increase in the number of reports, over-representation of First Nations children in child protection and out-of-home care.


made with florish

Any person from the community may report alleged child abuse or neglect to the child protection authorities. Concerned neighbor, midwife at maternity hospital, teacher in class or police officer responding to family violence call-out.

They are not required to provide actual evidence or evidence of the alleged harm. All they need is a “reasonable belief” of harm or potential harm. Their decision about child abuse or neglect is at their discretion. The notifier may also remain anonymous to the family that is the target of the charge.

Once alleged child abuse or neglect is reported to child protection authorities, the potential for future allegations increases. This is because an allegation itself serves as another “risk factor”.

Child protection authorities have the power to investigate any allegation of child abuse or neglect made within their jurisdiction. But the affected families are left with no option but to follow the instructions of child protection. These families often feel voiceless, powerless and in fear of a system that continues to remove First Nation children at disproportionate rates (despite commitments to change).

Social workers have acknowledged the disadvantages of past practices. However, they remain complicit in child protection systems that continue to harm First Nations families and communities. These practices resonate with generations of piracy.

Changing child protection systems requires more than an apology and acknowledgment of past harm. On-paper reforms, such as the commissioning of independent reviews into child protection systems without fully implementing the recommendations, ring hollow. As a result, child protection systems continue to harm First Nations second generation children and families.

It needs to be acknowledged that the understanding of “risk” in Australian child protection systems is built on racial discrimination and a biased understanding of “good parenting”.

Transformation of these systems requires investment in prevention and early intervention, countering whiteness in these practices and improving cultural awareness of the different styles of parenting.

These are an important step in addressing the structural factors of involvement with child protection systems.

First Nation families need better support to stay together to avoid more generations of stolen children.

This article is republished from – The Conversation – Read the – original article.

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