Nearly 48,000 children in Australia were taken away from their families and placed into out-of- home care last financial year.
Alan Brennan, CEO of Pathfinders says this is an alarming statistic that highlights the vital need for more preventative measures from child-protection advocates.
Pathfinders, a not-for- profit agency, provides a number of out-of- home care and family support services in the New England North West and Mid North Coast, and supported more than 4,980 individuals and families through its Family Referral Services program last year.
“The recently released Productivity Commission’s report shows that the number of children taken from their homes increased by three percent from the previous year and nearly 18,000 of those children placed in out-of- home care were in NSW,” Mr Brennan said.
“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are still overrepresented, accounting for more than 35 percent of those in out-of- home care, and are 10 times more likely to be removed than non- Indigenous children.
“It’s disheartening to see these increasing rates concurrent to growing rates of children at risk of neglect and abuse across Australia. We all must do more for the children and young people in our communities.”
Mr Brennan said the report reinforced the importance of preventative and early intervention programs and services to reach children and families before crisis point.
“At Pathfinders, we see first hand the difference early intervention services can make in the lives of individuals and families in our communities – connecting them with parenting supports, Aboriginal early education services, specialist homelessness provision, skill building workshops, education reengagement programs and more.”
Mr Brennan said that the non-profit’s out-of- home care services shelter and nurture children and young people in the child protection system while its other services support and strengthen families so that children can live in safe and stable environments with their relatives.