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More need to be done to protect Indigenous children

Extract from Australian Broadcasting Corporation - ABC Online, on 2 April 2003


Federal Youth Affairs Minister Larry Anthony has conceded more needs to done to protect Indigenous children.

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) has produced new figures showing the number of children removed from their parents home for the own protection rose to nearly 19,000 last year.

It says the rate of Indigenous children in care is about six times the general population.

Mr Anthony says that is of grave concern.

"A lot of that is due to drug and alcohol issues, regrettably many of those remote communities [are] more dysfunctional" Mr Anthony said.

"Indeed, what we found in the past is putting extra money into Indigenous issues hasn't necessarily solved the problem and a lot of it comes down to community empowerment, course mentoring or through elders.

"The Commonwealth Government is running a number of pilot projects with more remote communities, but nevertheless in Indigenous issues, it's a very poor record and we need to do more."

Mr Anthony says there has been an alarming increase in the number of children who have been removed from their parents home for their own protection.

He says that is partly due to people being more prepared to report their concerns about the welfare of children.

"Perhaps in the past it might have been swept under the carpet or people didn't talk about it," Mr Anthony said.

"It's a lot more open today and so it should be, and I think the recognition as well if there is a very poor family situation, there's an onus on DOCS (Department of Community Services) in New South Wales or other agencies, they have to remove those children from those risk area."


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