22 February, 2023

The Hon. J.S. LEE (Deputy Leader of the Opposition) (14:40): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking a question of the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs about Aboriginal children.

Leave granted.

The Hon. J.S. LEE: 

The Kate Alexander report called Trust in Culture, a review of child protection in South Australia, was released last year. The review was an investigation into deaths of children in care of family or the state. In her report, she states that seven of the eight children whose tragic deaths are at the centre of this review were identified as Aboriginal. There has been a 116.3 per cent increase of Aboriginal children in care in South Australia over the last decade and the number is trending up. Unfortunately, only half of those children are placed with family or kin.

South Australia also has the highest rate of Aboriginal children on long-term guardianship orders and the lowest rate of reunification for Aboriginal children compared with other Australian states and territories. My questions to the minister are:

1. As the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, what action has he undertaken to ensure that long-term guardianship orders decrease for Aboriginal children?

2. Can the minister explain what actions have been undertaken by the government to improve the rates of reunification for Aboriginal children with their families?

3. Can the minister indicate which recommendations in that report will the government implement, particularly in relation to the specific focus required for Aboriginal children?


The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Attorney-General, Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector) (14:42): 

I thank the honourable member for her question. As the honourable member would be aware, the Alexander report, its responses and the child protection system sit under the child protection minister, the Hon. Katrine Hildyard, the member for Reynell, in another place, but these are very serious questions.

The rate of removal of Aboriginal children from their family is too high. It is too high in South Australia. It is too high across this country. The rate of reunification is too low. It is too low in South Australia and across the country.

One of the things that I firmly believe is that all the solutions are not found in what I think or particularly what any other minister or even a Minister for Child Protection thinks. They are found in the views of the Aboriginal community and that is one of the driving forces behind making sure Aboriginal people have more of a say in these sorts of issues and in the policies that affect their lives. But I can assure the honourable member that the Minister for Child Protection is very well aware of the difficulties faced and also the need to do better in this area.