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New online dashboard to help monitor over-representation of Indigenous children in out-of-home care in Queensland

Dechlan Brennan -

The Queensland Family and Child Commission have launched a new dashboard to highlight how the state monitors the growing over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in the child protection system.

Coinciding with Close the Gap Day, the launch of the dashboard comes in the wake of a series of distressing reports in Queensland, which have outlined the reality that the state is failing to adequately reduce the over-representation of Indigenous children in the child protection and youth justice system.

This is in direct contradiction to Closing the Gap Target 12, which calls for a reduction of 45 per cent in the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in the child protection system by 2031.

QFCC Commissioner and Gamilaraay woman Natalie Lewis said this over-representation was a "contemporary injustice," labelling it a "pervasive feature of child protection systems in all jurisdictions".

"Despite Queensland's commitment to Our Way, a generational strategy to eliminate over-representation, and the Closing the Gap Target 12, more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people are in the Queensland child protection system than ever before," Commissioner Lewis said.

She said the QFCC's Principle Focus: A child-rights approach to systemic accountability for the safety and wellbeing of Queensland's First Nations children program monitors and examines the "dynamics and drivers of this over-representation in Queensland's child protection system".

"The program isn't just about identifying challenges; it is also an opportunity to identify promising practices and provide a platform to encourage exceptional examples to become the norm," Commissioner Lewis said.

In a scathing report last month, the Productivity Commission made a series of recommendations for Australia to meet its Closing the Gap targets, including strengthening accountability measures.

The QFCC said their dashboard aligns with this.

It includes analysis of how the Indigenous child placement principle is implemented across the child protection system, presenting both statewide and regional data.

"The QFCC has long supported the need to increase transparency and the accessibility of data relating to over-representation," Commissioner Lewis said.

"Improving access to localised data and incorporating the insights and perspectives of those working on the ground with families in each region, aims to create visibility, greater accountability and a more nuanced understanding about what is working well and what requires action."

Principle Focus features several policy matters pursued by the QFCC.

These include advocating for a moratorium on adverse action by the Department of Housing while a child is subject to formal child protection intervention; further examining First Nations children on Long-Term Guardianship orders to First Nations kin, non-Indigenous kin carers and foster carers; and driving system-wide reforms identified by the Productivity Commission review across universal, secondary, and tertiary systems.

The Principle Focus dashboard can be found here.

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