A national body which advocates for the welfare of Indigenous kids has welcomed an ACT inquiry into the overrepresentation of Aboriginal children in the foster care system.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in Canberra were 12 times more likely to be in foster care than non-Indigenous kids, the latest Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report on child protection showed.
That's why children and youth minister Rachel Stephen-Smith has commissioned an independent review into the ACT's out-of-home care system, she said.
Ms Stephen-Smith said the review, expected to start later this year, would give the government a "deeper understanding of this problem" and inform system-wide improvements.
"The government will not rush this complex review. We will give it time to fully explore all the issues and it is crucial that both the process and any decisions keep children and young people at the centre, with their needs and best interests paramount," Ms Stephen-Smith said.
The review will be undertaken by a team of "skilled Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with experienced in child protection", Ms Stephen-Smith said.
It is understood Canberra Indigenous youth centre Gugan Gulwan is working with the government on the review, however chief executive Kim Davidson declined to be interviewed.
The Secretariat of National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care or SNAICC has also been approached for their guidance.
Fleur Smith, who is the coordinator for SNAICC's Family Matters campaign, welcomed the inquiry which comes 20 years after the Bringing Them Home report.
She said in many ways, the problem was worse now than it was in 1997.
"Nationally on average Aboriginal kids are nearly 10 times more likely to be removed from families in out-of-home care," Ms Smith said.
"This time 20 years ago there were 10,000 kids in care and one in five was Indigenous. Now there's almost 46,000 in care and one in three are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander."
She said the 83 per cent of child protection funding was spent on out-of-home care while 17 per cent was spent on prevention, despite a marked increase in the number of kids in care in the past two decades.
"The system as a whole is very much skewed to investing in the acute crisis end, once a child has been removed, but not putting investment in the preventative end," Ms Smith said.
Winnunga Nimmityjah chief executive Julie Tongs said the funding disparity was galling.
"I don't understand how billions go into out-of-home care but millions go into keeping kids with their families," she said.
"I really don't know. I just think they're very quick to take Aboriginal kids from their families."
The first findings of the review will be delivered within a year and final report will be delivered within two years.
"A review that's going to take two years - how many kids are going to be taken over that time?" Ms Tongs said.
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