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Royal Commission examines experiences of First Nations children with disability in out-of-home care

The Disability Royal Commission will seek to understand the systemic problems experienced by First Nations children with disabilities in out-of-home care when it holds its next public hearing, Public hearing 16, from 17–24 September 2021.

This is the second First Nations specific public hearing to be held by the Royal Commission as it seeks to plot the life course for First Nations people with disabilities and their experiences of violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation, including cumulative and systemic abuse and neglect by multiple systems over time.


“On 30 June 2020, 38% of children on care and protection orders in Australia were First Nations, despite making up only around 6% of the total number of children in Australia. First Nations children were also 10 times more likely to be in out-of-home care than non-First

Nations children,” said Chair, the Hon Ronald Sackville AO QC.


Despite the limited data available on the intersection between disability and First Nations status, it is recognised that First Nations people with disabilities are over-represented in out-of-home care settings and this includes First Nations children who are in foster care, kinship care, or in residential care.


Public Hearing 16 will examine a range of issues including:

  • Policy and practices of child protection departments in identifying and diagnosing disability of First Nations children in out-of-home care, including health checks and disability assessments

  • Access to supports and services by First Nations children with disability and their carers in out-of-home care, including the NDIS

  • Policies and practices with respect to secure care environments and the potential for adverse outcomes for First Nations children with disabilities in these settings

  • Patterns and trends in the representation and placement of First Nations children with disabilities in out-of-home care, including whether these children are more likely to be placed in particular out-of-home care settings

  • Data on the representation and experiences of First Nations children with disabilities in out-of-home care

  • Negative outcomes for First Nations children with disability in out-of-home care, including care-criminalisation

  • Solutions to address systemic problems experienced by First Nations children with disabilities in out-of-home care.

Public hearing 16 was scheduled to take place in Alice Springs (Mparntwe). However, the ongoing COVID-19 outbreaks and resultant border closures mean the hearing will now be closed to the public and live-streamed on the Royal Commission website with live captioning and Auslan-English interpreters.


The first day of the hearing will include a pre-recorded Smoking Ceremony and Welcome to Country by Traditional Owners in Alice Springs (Mparntwe) through the Akeyulerre Healing Centre and will start at 10 am AEST.


Chair of the Royal Commission, the Honourable Ronald Sackville AO QC, will preside at the hearing alongside, Ms Andrea Mason OAM and Dr Rhonda Galbally AC.


Counsel Assisting for this hearing will be Mr Lincoln Crowley SC, Mr Ben Power and Ms Avelina Tarrago.


You can watch the live stream online.


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