Aboriginal children in care

Wanslea Out of Home Care executive manager Stephan Lund.
Wanslea Out of Home Care executive manager Stephan Lund.

Aboriginal children make up 49.5 per cent of children, aged up to 17 years, in foster care across Western Australia.

Mr Lund said he estimated fewer than 10 per cent of about 1200 registered foster carers in WA were Aboriginal.

‘Many Aboriginal carers are kinship carers; they care for their own family members,’ he said.

‘Forty-five per cent of Aboriginal children in care are with kinship carers.

‘We have placed over 100 Aboriginal children in care in the last six months, and while we have Aboriginal staff to assist with the transition, with only two Aboriginal foster parents on the books, it is difficult to place with kin or community.

‘We have a target to have at least 25 per cent of Aboriginal children cared for by Aboriginal carers by 2016.’

Mr Lund said child placement in care was a last resort and very concerning about the level of need in the Aboriginal community.

‘What is just as troubling is that often when Aboriginal children come into care they are disconnected from family kinship networks, local significant connections and, all too often, their culture and country,’ he said.

‘Aboriginal people are 16 times more likely to be placed in care than non-Aboriginal children.

‘Some of the main factors here are inter-generational poverty and grief and trauma issues, often related to social policy and removal practices.’

About 50 per cent of children placed with Wanslea are Aboriginal.

The Scarborough organisation is working towards increasing Aboriginal carers to ensure their cultural needs are met.

Mr Lund said Aboriginal people interested in fostering would have their confidentiality respected and be assessed by experienced, assessors with sensitivity.

Interested families and potential carers can go to www.fosternow.com.au or call 9245 2441.