Aboriginal boy in NSW care revealed he has lived alone in an apartment for almost a year

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The NSW Minister for Families, Community and Disability Services was accused of violating his duty of care over the welfare of a young Aboriginal boy after it was revealed that the 12-year-old had lived alone in an apartment for more than 300 days.

The boy is one of 91 children in the state living in alternative care, an “emergency and temporary” situation where an appropriate foster family, family member or other care setting cannot be arranged.

47 percent of these children are indigenous.

Dr. Paul Gray, director of the Indigenous Child Protection Hub at the University of Technology Sydney, said the longstanding use of alternative care is “deeply worrying”.

“If the state steps in to remove children from their families, they must do better than isolating children in a hotel room,” he said.

“The child protection system is broken and Aboriginal children suffer disproportionately from the consequences.”

At a hearing in the state parliament on Friday, Minister Alister Henskens was asked for a cost breakdown of how much of the state budget is spent on early intervention versus removing children from their families.

Mr. Henskens could not answer the question and immediately took the request.

“Aboriginal communities and advocates have consistently urged governments to invest in prevention and early intervention, but these vital services remain inadequate and very few have been developed by and for Aboriginal people,” said Dr. Gray.

AbSec CEO John Leha agreed, saying the continued use of alternative care shows that the sector’s resources need to be redirected.

“There is a serious need to shift the focus of the system from the crisis end of the spectrum to supporting families with early intervention and other necessary services.”

A 2019 review of Aboriginal children and youth in out-of-home care, the Family Is Culture report, made more than 100 recommendations for the sector, including consulting with local Aboriginal organizations.

Almost two years later, the recommendations were only partially implemented or not at all.

Mr. Leha blamed a lack of accountability on the part of NSW’s child protection system.

“The government agrees that the rate at which Aboriginal children are being removed from their families is unacceptably high, but we are still waiting for them to come to the table and share the changes with the Aboriginal communities in a meaningful way that are necessary to prevent this, “he said called.

“The system is in crisis and the sector is crying out for major reform to focus on keeping Aboriginal children safe and connected to their culture, community and kin.

“If we continue down this path, it will lead to worse results for a generation of our children.”


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