Attachment and the (mis)apprehension of Aboriginal children: epistemic violence in child welfare interventions

Ash Wright, Paul Gray, Belle Selkirk, Caroline Hunt, Rita Wright

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Child protection systems in Australia continue to disproportionately investigate Aboriginal families and intervene to remove Aboriginal children, applying non-Indigenous constructs and understandings of child development that contribute to these enduring inequities. Attachment theory is one such prevalent framework with significant applications in child protection. While constructions of attachment have attempted to grapple with diversity, its application in Australian child protection policy and practice reflects dominant socio-cultural perceptions as a foundation for decision making that misrepresents Aboriginal families and their children’s developmental needs. We position this socio-legal application of attachment specifically, and developmental sciences more broadly, within a long history of settler-colonial intervention, providing a façade of scientific authority that perpetrates further harms on Aboriginal children, families and communities. We offer insights about a new frame for attachment that respects Aboriginal worldviews as part of structural transformations to address those harms.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPsychiatry, Psychology and Law
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 21 Jan 2024


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