Earlier Intervention and Family Support Strategy will help vulnerable families says child protection minister

Minister for Child Protection Andrea Mitchell.
Minister for Child Protection Andrea Mitchell.

A NEW strategy to reduce the number of Aboriginal children entering out-of-home care is unlikely to succeed without further funding, according to State opposition.

At the end of June there were 4658 children living in out of home care.

More than half of those were Aboriginal children, despite only making up 7 per cent of WA’s child population.

Last Wednesday Child Protection Minister Andrea Mitchell said the Earlier Intervention and Family Support Strategy would provide targeted support for vulnerable families.

“The last 10 years has seen a significant change in out-of-home care, with the overall number of children in care doubling and a significant over-representation of Aboriginal children in State care,” Ms Mitchell said.

“The State Government has had considerable success in reducing the number of non-Aboriginal children entering State care, with Western Australia having the lowest rate in Australia.

“However, we must do better at safely reducing the number of Aboriginal children requiring State care.

“The strategy identifies the need to work with community service providers, Aboriginal community-controlled organisations and the Aboriginal community to design new services that meet the specific needs of Aboriginal families.”

However, Opposition spokesman for Child Protection Stephen Dawson said things were unlikely to improve “with funding levels over the next three years being slashed by more than $10 million”.

“The high number of Aboriginal children in care in WA is a disgrace and the State Government has so far done nothing to address the issue,” he said.

“While the Minister’s announcement is welcome they have not committed any extra funding to tackling the problem.

“WA’s child protection system is in crisis, the number of children coming into care continues to grow and they are coming into care with more complex needs and behaviours.”

For information visit www.cpfs.wa.gov.au.