Media Release by Senator the Hon Zed Seselja

Child protection crisis worsening

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) report released today, Child protection Australia 2015-16, shows the number of children in the out-of-home care system in Australia has increased to 46,448 in 2015-16 up from 43,399 the year before.

“Now we have over 30,000 children that have been in out-of-home care for more than 2 years and almost 19,000 for more than 5 years,” said Senator Zed Seselja, Assistant Minister for Social Services and Multicultural Affairs.

“In the last year we only saw 196 children adopted in Australia, which is not even 1% of the children who have been in care for more than 2 years.

“Obviously reunification with their family is the first priority for children, but when this is not a viable option most children are left in the out-of-home care system and are moved from family to family with no stability. This makes them far less likely to have good education outcomes and more likely to end up as part of the youth justice system.

“These are our most vulnerable children and we need to do more to get this right,” said Senator Seselja.

At the meeting with State and Territory Community Services Ministers in November, Ministers agreed “the Commonwealth, State and Territory governments would work collaboratively to develop a set of guiding principles to drive improvement in the achievement of permanency outcomes for children in out-of-home care”.

“While this is a good step in the right direction, we need to remember this is urgent and we need to do everything we can as soon as we can.

“The New South Wales Government have made huge improvements by having legislating timeframes for decision making and utilising a taskforce to break down the barriers to the adoption process. I would encourage all states and territories to follow their lead on this and do everything in their power to give these children stable homes,” Senator Seselja concluded.