Objectives: The removal of a child from their parents is traumatising, particularly in Aboriginal communities where a history of child removals has led to intergenerational trauma. This study will determine where disparities in child protection involvement exist among Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal children and characteristics associated with infant removals. Challenges faced by child protection and other agencies, and opportunities for overcoming these, are discussed.
Methods: Data from both the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare and linked Western Australian government data was used to examine disparities between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal children in the child protection and out-of-home care system.
Results: Nationally, Aboriginal children are ten times more likely to be placed in out-of-home care than non-Aboriginal children and this disparity starts in infancy. Infants were removed from parents with high levels of risk. Aboriginal infants were at increased risk of being removed from women with substance-use problems and had greater proportions removed from remote, disadvantaged communities than were non-Aboriginal infants.
Conclusions: Aboriginal infants have a high rate of removal. Although there are many complexities to be understood and challenges to overcome, there are also potential strategies. The disparity between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal infant removals needs to be seen as a priority requiring urgent action to prevent further intergenerational trauma.