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Public hearing 8: The experiences of First Nations people with disability and their families in contact with child protection systems

The Royal Commission held a public hearing in Brisbane from Monday, 23 November 2020 to Friday, 27 November 2020. The hearing was closed to the public but was live-streamed on the Royal Commission website.

A number of direct-experience witnesses gave evidence at the hearing, which explored the experiences of First Nations people with disability and their families who have had contact with child protection systems, and the extent to which culturally appropriate and accessible supports are provided.

In particular, the scope of the hearing included an examination of the following issues:

  • whether First Nations parents with disability and their families are exposed to a higher likelihood of statutory intervention(s) by child protection systems because they are a First Nations person with disability;
  • how child protection services interact with and respond to First Nations parents with disability in their practices and administrative decisions;
  • whether First Nations parents with disability are exposed to a greater risk of violence, abuse, neglect or exploitation during, or as a result of, contact with child protection systems;
  • what has or should be done to reduce the risk of First Nations parents with disability being subject to adverse outcomes, including all forms of abuse, and to promote better outcomes;
  • the responses of state and territory governments to the implementation of recommendations on the above issues made by previous Royal Commissions and past inquiries; and
  • related matters.

The purpose of the hearing was to:

  • continue the Royal Commission’s inquiry into causal factors that place First Nations people with disability at greater risk of experiencing violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation with the initial First Nations-specific public hearing;
  • set the conceptual framework through applying a life course approach to an examination of those issues, and to start that life course approach at entry into out of home care; 
  • gather evidence about the experiences of First Nations parents with disability in contact with child protection systems, including to consider whether systemic failings identified may amount to systemic violence and/or neglect;
  • to position the Royal Commission for an examination of interpersonal forms of violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation against First Nations people with disability;
  • to respond to key concerns raised with the Royal Commission by First Nations people, including First Nations people with disability; and to increase awareness of issues impacting First Nations people with disability; and
  • to demonstrate the significance of the Royal Commission work for First Nations people and to encourage increased engagement and meaningful participation in our work.

The Royal Commission thanks those who have engaged with it on these issues, particularly the First Nations community, and encourages the provision of any further information and submissions.