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01 September 2015

Fiona Arney and Sue Blacklock

The development of an Institute of Excellence in Indigenous Child Welfare is being suggested as one of the potential solutions required to tackle a child protection system in “crisis” in Australia.

This is one of the key proposals being advocated by the Australian Centre for Child Protection, whose director, Professor Fiona Arney, will address what measures need taking to transform the system, when she makes her address this week at Healthy Development Adelaide (HDA’s) 11th annual oration.

With an estimated one in two Aboriginal children reported to child protection services by the age of four, and a lack of a coordinated national approach to research, policy and practice development for Indigenous child protection,  Professor Arney will outline how such an Institute could help improve the lives of thousands of children.

“Billions of dollars have been spent on continuous cycles of inquiries and reviews into child protection systems in Australia and overseas,” Prof Arney says.

“In Australia alone, 37 inquiries and reviews have been conducted over the past decade with the aim of designing better systems to protect children and there are currently three Royal Commissions being conducted in Australia for this very purpose.

“However the system reform efforts following these inquiry processes have often yielded limited benefits for the most vulnerable children and their families. For Indigenous children particularly, the situation is rapidly worsening.

“An Institute of Excellence in Indigenous Child Welfare would aim to decrease the escalating over-representation of Indigenous children in care and protection systems including out of home care, while positioning South Australia as a national and international leader and innovator in Indigenous child protection research, policy development and leadership practice”.

Aboriginal Elder, Ambassador for Children at the Australian Centre for Child Protection, and Chair of Winangay Resources, which works to promote the social and emotional wellbeing of Aboriginal children and communities, Aunt Sue Blacklock, supports Professor Arney’s call for a new Institute.

“We are facing another stolen generation. We need a Centre of Excellence to find new ways of working that will stem the tide of removals,” Sue Blacklock says.

“Working together we can identify and develop new ways that will improve outcomes for our kids and communities.”

Professor Arney says she will use the oration to explore the seeming intractability of problems facing child protection systems, drawing upon extensive research with vulnerable children, their families and communities and the services and systems that work with them, to propose new child-centred directions for child protection.

 Professor Arney is both a passionate advocate for, and internationally recognised expert in, the field of prevention, early intervention and child protection research, and she will be presented with the Healthy Development Adelaide Award for 2015 at the event.

 For children’s sake! What we need to do to transform child protection systems in Australia will be presented on September 2 between 6-8pm at Elder Hall in North Terrace.

For interviews: Professor Fiona Arney office (08) 8302 2918 email fiona.arney@unisa.edu.au

Media contact: Will Venn office (08) 8302 0096 email will.venn@unisa.edu.au

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