Stronger Together: Strengthening families to improve outcomes for children.
reportposted on 04.04.2022, 04:49 by Naomi PfitznerNaomi Pfitzner, Silke Meyer, Nicola HelpsNicola Helps, Jasmine McGowanJasmine McGowan
While Child Protection policies and legal frameworks vary across Australian jurisdictions, all Child Protection services have statutory responsibilities to protect children and young
people from harm resulting from abuse and neglect within families or where parents are unable to provide adequate protection from such harm (AIHW, 2016; Child Family
Community Australia, 2018). If the Children’s Court finds a child is in need of protection, the Court may make a protection order. A child that is unable to safely live at home maybe placed with their wider family, community or in out-of-home care (OOHC).
In Australia, 72,000 children (13 per 1,000) were subject to a care and protection order in 2019-20. The majority of these children are subject to temporary care orders, which
may range from one month to multiple years. Most children who are removed from their homes under temporary care orders are placed in the care of family or kin. This is seen to
be in children’s best interest to maintain a level of familiarity and connectedness to family (AIHW, 2021). However, it can be problematic if children are placed in the (temporary) care
of an abusive parent who has been responsible for mothers and children’s experiences of domestic and family violence (DFV) (cf. Humphreys et al., 2019).
In Australia, most jurisdictions incorporate permanency-related actions and timeframes into case planning for children placed in alternative care arrangements. Guided by the principles of continuity and stability, permanency planning aims to develop and maintain meaningful connections between children subject to Child Protection intervention and their carers. It preferences the timely reunification of children with their families where
this is deemed to be in the children’s best interests (AIHW, 2020). Family preservation or reunification is a practice priority in permanency planning for children involved with
Child Protection. However, the national reunification rate of children who have temporarily been removed from family is only 21% in Australia overall and lower at 15% for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children In 2019-20, 19% of children subject to a Family Reunification Order were reunited with family (AIHW, 2021).