Over-representation in the child protection system

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families will have access to culturally appropriate Indigenous-specific and mainstream services and care.

Over-representation in concerns received

Over-representation in the child protection system

The majority of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families in Queensland live safely at home in their community and culture.

The Child Protection Act 1999 specifically recognises a child has the right to be brought up within the child’s own family and community. Safe families, supported by strong community and cultural networks, provide a solid childhood foundation for education, employment and health outcomes later in life. The department is committed to empowering Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families to exercise opportunities to live well by ensuring families enjoy access to quality, culturally safe universal and targeted services necessary for First Nations children to thrive.

However, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people are over-represented in the child protection system both Queensland and nationally at levels significantly above their population share (8% at June 2021).

Our Way: A generational strategy for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families 2017–2037 (Our Way) sets out a roadmap to achieve the ambitious target to eliminate the disproportionate representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in the child protection system, and close the gap in life outcomes, by 2037. Co-designed in genuine partnership with Family Matters Queensland, Our Way is supported by a series of action plans. The first action plans, Changing Tracks focuses on changes to the systems and policy setting to set the foundations to achieve transformational change in Queensland within a generation.

Our Way and the supporting action plans were approved by the Queensland Government and involve collective action from multiple government agencies, and their implementation is overseen by the Queensland First Children and Families Board that includes highly respected Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander members from across Queensland.

More broadly Family Matters is a national coalition committed to eliminating the disproportionate representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families in the child protection system.

Our Way: A generational strategy for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families 2017–2037

Changing Tracks: An action plan for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families 2017–2019 and 2020–2022

Establishing the Queensland First Children and Families Board

Supporting Families Changing Futures 2019–2023

Family Matters: Strong Communities. Strong Culture. Stronger Children

Proportion of children subject to an intake that were Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander

Source: Department of Children, Youth Justice and Multicultural Affairs.

What is being counted

  1. Data is for the year ending the reference date (12 months of data).
  2. Intakes include notifications and child concern reports. If a child was subject to both an approved notification and an approved child concern report they are counted only once according to their first intake type. 
  3. If a child was subject to more than one intake during the period, the child is counted only once.
  4. Age group: Based on the age of the child at the time the concerns were received.

Definition notes

  1. Intake: Refers to the process by which Child Safety receives and gathers information about harm or risk of harm to a child or an unborn child who may be at risk of harm after he or she is born and determines the appropriate response to the information received. Intake processes are initiated when professionals, family members or members of the public contact Regional Intake Services or Child Safety Service Centres with concerns about a child. 

Proportion of children notified that were Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander

Source: Department of Children, Youth Justice and Multicultural Affairs.

What is being counted

  1. Data is for the year ending the reference date (12 months of data).
  2. If a child was subject to more than one notification during the period, the child is counted only once.
  3. Age group: Based on the age of the child at the time the concerns were received.

Definition notes

  1. Notification: A notification is recorded where there is a reasonable suspicion that a child is in need of protection, that is, a child has been significantly harmed, is being significantly harmed, or is at risk of significant harm, and does not have a parent able and willing to protect them.

Proportion of children substantiated that were Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander

Source: Department of Children, Youth Justice and Multicultural Affairs.

What is being counted

  1. Data is for the year ending the reference date (12 months of data).
  2. If a child was subject to more than one substantiation during the period, the child is counted only once.
  3. Age group: Based on the age of the child at the time the concerns were received.

Definition notes

  1. Substantiated: The outcome of an investigation and assessment where it is assessed that the child or young person has suffered, is suffering, or is at unacceptable risk of suffering future, significant harm.

Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander children in contact with Child Safety - Rate per 1,000

Source: Department of Children, Youth Justice and Multicultural Affairs.

What is being counted

  1. Data is for the year ending the reference date (12 months of data).
  2. Children subject to an intake: If a child was subject to more than one intake during the period, the child is counted only once.
  3. Children subject to a notification: If a child was subject to more than one notification during the period, the child is counted only once.
  4. Rate per thousand: Refers to the number of children subject to an intake or notification divided by the population of children and young people aged 0-17 years of age. Population data is sourced from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) and is based on estimated resident population for Queenslanders aged 0-17 years, as at 30 June of the previous year.
  5. Age group: Based on the age of the child at the time the concerns were received.

Definition notes

  1. Intake: Intake refers to the process by which Child Safety receives and gathers information about harm or risk of harm to a child or an unborn child who may be at risk of harm after he or she is born, and determines the appropriate response to the information received. Intake processes are initiated when professionals, family members or members of the public contact Regional Intake Services or Child Safety Service Centres with concerns about a child. 

  2. Notification: A notification is recorded where there is a reasonable suspicion that a child is in need of protection, that is, a child has been significantly harmed, is being significantly harmed, or is at risk of significant harm, and does not have a parent able and willing to protect them.

Time series notes

From June 2019: Estimated resident population data for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander and non-Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander children and young people in Queensland have been revised for all reference periods using rebased population estimates by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) (2016 Census based) sourced from the Queensland Government Statistician’s Office. The size, structure and components of these estimates supersede those previously published by the ABS (2011 Census based).

Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander children subject to a substantiation - Rate per 1,000

Source: Department of Children, Youth Justice and Multicultural Affairs.

What is being counted

  1. Data is for the year ending the reference date (12 months of data).

  2. Children subject to a substantiation: Counts the number of individual children subject to a notification during the reference period, where an investigation and assessment has been finalised and the outcome was recorded as substantiated.

    If a child is subject to more than one substantiation in the period, the child is counted only once.

  3. Children subject to a substantiation - in need of protection: Counts the number of individual children subject to a notification during the reference period, where an investigation and assessment has been finalised and the outcome was recorded as substantiated and the child is in need of protection.

    If a child is subject to more than one substantiation "in need of protection" in the period, the child is counted only once.

  4. Rate per thousand: Refers to the number of children for each of the above categories, divided by the population of children and young people aged 0-17 years of age. Population data is sourced from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) and is based on estimated resident population for Queenslanders aged 0-17 years, as at 30 June of the previous year.

Definition notes

  1. Substantiated: The outcome of an investigation and assessment where it is assessed that the child or young person has suffered, is suffering, or is at unacceptable risk of suffering future, significant harm.

  2. Substantiated - Child in need of protection: The outcome of an investigation and assessment where it is assessed that the child or young person has suffered, is suffering, or is at unacceptable risk of suffering future, significant harm and there is no parent able and willing to protect the child.

Time series notes

From June 2019: Estimated resident population data for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander and non-Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander children and young people in Queensland have been revised for all reference periods using rebased population estimates by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) (2016 Census based) sourced from the Queensland Government Statistician’s Office. The size, structure and components of these estimates supersede those previously published by the ABS (2011 Census based).