Predicting and preventing child removals and optimising the child protection system for Aboriginal children in partnership with Aboriginal communities and health services

  • Research program: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health
  • Project status: Current
  • Start date: January 2019
  • Expected end date: December 2024
  • Completion date:
  • Funded by: NHMRC Project Grant
  • Lead organisation: University of Melbourne

Aboriginal and other Indigenous children are greatly over-represented in out-of-home care and at every stage of the child protections process. This is a national and international issue requiring urgent attention. Indigenous children represent between two and 10 times their population proportion among the children in care in Australia, Canada and the US. In Australia, the proportion of Aboriginal children in out-of-home care is up to 17 times that of non- Aboriginal children in states such as Western Australia. Data suggest the rates for Aboriginal children are increasing, and that children are entering care at earlier ages and staying for longer duration. Added to this is the concerning fall in the proportion of Aboriginal children being placed with relatives/kin, other Indigenous caregivers or in Indigenous residential care in many states. We, as a nation, risk another stolen generation - “Without immediate action in 20 years we will find ourselves in an even worse position, outraged and appalled as we apologise to yet another stolen generation and wonder where we went wrong.” (Prof Chris Sarra, ambassador for the Family Matters Campaign, Australia). We need to understand why so many Aboriginal children are entering care and where better early support services could help to prevent many removals or see families safely reunited. We are proposing a study that will provide detailed, contemporary and integrated data to estimate rates of children entering the child protection system (focusing on clustering within families and geographical areas) and the intergenerational health predictors of children and families before they enter the child protection system and health outcomes after they are in care. Views and perspectives from the Aboriginal community and Aboriginal primary care providers will also be acquired to understand how to better support kinship carers and vulnerable families. Findings are expected to inform more effective policies and services.

Name & Contact Details Role Research Program Location
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Dr Jocelyn Jones
Tel: 61 (0)8 9266 1616
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Chief Investigator

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health


  • Chief Investigator: Sandra Eades, University of Melbourne
  • Chief Investigator: Bridgette McNamara, University of Melbourne
  • Chief Investigator: Melissa O'Donnell, Telethon Kids Institute
  • Chief Investigator: Lina Gubhaju, University of Melbourne
  • Chief Investigator: Koen Simons, University of Melbourne
  • Chief Investigator: Richard Chenhall, University of Melbourne

Professor Sandra Eades

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This project aligns with the following Sustainable Development Goals and Targets: