Modern Australian

Another stolen generation looms unless Indigenous women fleeing violence can find safe housing

  • Written by Kyllie Cripps, Scientia Felllow and Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Law UNSW Sydney, UNSW

In Western Australia more than half the children placed in state care are Aboriginal. The state government committed this month to reducing this over-representation, in a move that parallels the Closing the Gap Refresh draft target nationally. Despite concerns about another stolen generation, Australia has yet to act on a root cause – the difficulty Indigenous women escaping family violence face in finding safe housing.

Read more: Why controversial child protection reforms in NSW could lead to another Stolen Generation

Our research shows domestic violence and housing are linked as a cause of child removal.

Every year governments spend millions addressing Indigenous intergenerational trauma. Child removal is an important cause of this trauma.

Care for children is a cornerstone of Aboriginal cultures. Child removal often has severe mental and physical health effects, with risks of substance use, homelessness and incarceration.

Read more: Aboriginal mothers are incarcerated at alarming rates – and their mental and physical health suffers

Consequences are similar for children, who also suffer from cultural dislocation. Yet Indigenous children are admitted to out-of-home care at 11 times the rate for non-Indigenous children. Far from declining, rates are increasing – by 21% between 2012 and 2017.

This issue is not primarily one of isolated remote communities. The rate of Indigenous children in out-of-home care is highest in our major cities.

Another stolen generation looms unless Indigenous women fleeing violence can find safe housing Child protection Australia 2017-18, AIHW (2019), Author provided Why are children removed? Contrary to public discourse, sexual abuse accounts for only a tiny percentage of substantiated notifications. Proportions are below those for non-Indigenous children (see chart below). Emotional abuse, which includes the child’s exposure to family violence, accounts for most notifications. The second-most-common type is neglect. This occurs at more than double the non-Indigenous rate and includes inadequate, insecure or unsafe housing. Another stolen generation looms unless Indigenous women fleeing violence can find safe housing AIHW 2019, Author provided Read more: Child protection report lacks crucial national detail on abuse in out-of-home care Mothers have nowhere to go In situations of family violence many Aboriginal woman face an impossible situation when trying to protect their children. If they stay with the perpetrator they risk notification for emotional abuse. If they leave but cannot find suitable housing, they risk allegations of neglect. This dilemma applies to all low-income women, but it is most acute for Aboriginal women. The combination of discrimination and low income means few find private rental housing. Crisis services are often full. The bottlenecks in the homelessness system result in long waits for transitional accommodation. Waiting times for scarce public housing are long. Many also face delays in being added to priority wait lists due to housing debt – even though this is often a result of their partner’s financial abuse. These women are often trapped in a revolving door between crisis centres, homelessness and returning to an unsafe home. This is a factor in their high rates of injury and early death. Delays in being appropriately housed can prevent children from ever being returned to their parents. Child protection timelines generally allow only 12 months before removal can become permanent. Another stolen generation looms unless Indigenous women fleeing violence can find safe housing Data sourced from Child protection Australia 2017–18, AIHW (2019) Cripps and Habibis (2019), Author provided A policy blind spot Housing’s critical role at the intersection of child protection and domestic violence has yet to be recognised in public policy. The national Fourth Action Plan to reduce violence against women and their children refers to “inadequate housing and overcrowding” as a factor in Aboriginal family violence. Despite this, it offers no specific guidelines or strategies to overcome these problems. Read more: The latest action plan to tackle violence against women isn’t perfect, but it takes a much-needed holistic approach The Closing the Gap policy focus on housing is limited to reducing overcrowding. While critical, this misses the relationship between housing shortages and family violence and its impact on mums being separated from their children. And the Refresh targets are uncertain and underdeveloped. Without specific housing targets, it is hard to see how the other targets to reduce violence and overrepresentation in out-of-home care will be met. As Indigenous policy is realigned under the Closing The Gap Refresh the Australian government must act on this missing link. It should increase the number of crisis beds and consider targets to reduce the numbers of Aboriginal women and children turned away from crisis accommodation. Programs should support timely access to secure housing. This is especially important for women seeking to reunify with children in state care. Within the Safe at Home program, special funds should be made available for housing safety upgrades so Aboriginal women can remain in their own homes. Beyond this, what’s needed are holistic solutions that work with the whole family, including the perpetrator. These solutions need to be developed and delivered in partnership with Aboriginal people, communities and services, building on the strengths of individuals and communities to overcome the impacts of violence and intergenerational trauma. The short-term nature of funding is also a problem. Investment needs to go beyond political cycles. Current short-term funding arrangements undermine trust in services and greatly reduce their capacity and potential effectiveness. Given the long-term intergenerational costs of child removal and domestic violence, such measures should prove cost-effective. More importantly, they would reduce violence against women and the over-representation of Aboriginal children in out-of-home care.

Authors: Kyllie Cripps, Scientia Felllow and Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Law UNSW Sydney, UNSW

Read more http://theconversation.com/another-stolen-generation-looms-unless-indigenous-women-fleeing-violence-can-find-safe-housing-123526

NEWS

Is your horse normal? Now there’s an app for that

Vet: are you happy? Horse: neigh.evilgurl/Flickr, CC BY-NC-SASince ancient times, horse behaviour, and the bond between horses and humans, has been a source of intrigue and fascination. The horse-lore that...

Curious Kids: how are stars made?

Stars come into existence because of a powerful force of nature called gravity.ESA/Hubble & NASA, Acknowledgement: Judy SchmidtIf you have a question you’d like an expert to answer, send it...

a road trip reveals local museums stuck in a rut

Berry, and other tourist towns, are out of step with modern museum curation which is trying to include Aboriginal communities and their stories. ShutterstockAboriginal and Torres Strait Islander readers are...

Vital signs. Our compulsory super system is broken. We ought to axe it, or completely reform it

We're taking money from people, letting it fall through the cracks, and spending no less than we were on pensions.ShutterstockThe just-announced inquiry into Australia’s retirement income system ought to be...

Might consciousness and free will be the aces up our sleeves when it comes to competing with robots?

Our advantage lies in incommensurables, and it'll grow in importance.Franck V. on UnsplashThe rise of artificial intelligence has led to widespread concern about the role of humans in the workplaces...

What is perimenopause and how does it affect women's health in midlife?

Perimenopause lasts months for some women, and years for others. from www.shutterstock.comAll women know to expect the time in life when their periods finish and they reach menopause. Many might...

how 'city girls' can learn to feel at home in the country

Shutterstock/The ConversationA move to the country is often presented in popular culture as an idyllic life, a place where you can escape the pressures of the city.It’s in television shows...

Storm clouds avoid the bush, darken over the economy

National Farmers' Federation president Fiona Simson says she doesn't think the government has a drought policy.ShutterstockGovernment sources insist shock jock Alan Jones didn’t drive Thursday’s announcement of a cash payment...

Julianne Schultz appointed chair of The Conversation

Professor Julianne Schultz AM FAMA has been appointed chair of The Conversation Media Group, following the retirement of Harrison Young. Since becoming chairman in April 2017, Harrison has improved The...

Cats are not scared off by dingoes. We must find another way to protect native animals

New research suggests feral cats can probably outsmart dingoes. Wikimedia/AAPFeral cats are wreaking havoc on our native wildlife, eating more than a billion animals across Australia every year. But managing...

does chewing gum stay inside you for years?

Swallowing a lot of gum can cause it to stick together or stick to food in your gut. www.shuttershock.com, CC BYIf you have a question you’d like an expert...

what Australian discrimination law says about quotas

In March last year, Frances McDormand won the Academy Award for Best Actress. In her acceptance speech, she drew attention to the female nominees in the room and left them...

Popular articles from Modern Australian

Best Out of Waste in New South WalesGlamorous Gifts - 5 Luxe Giving Options When Only the Best Will DoFood for collagenIs Rhinoplasty Right for You?Winter fun in ColoradoSlots SecretsEssential Personal Hygiene Tips for TravelingTop 3 Affordable Activities To Do In Los AngelesTop 4 Reasons Why a Gas Fireplace Is an Ideal SolutionAdvantages of Using an Insulin PumpMaths – when it’s time to break free of your misbeliefsStrictly For Women:5 Steps To Top 5 Designer Sunglasses That Celebrities Are WearingBest Paradise Islands You Should Visit in AustraliaMost Popular Mexican Destinations for Australian Visitors