'Resetting the relationship' in Indigenous child protection: Public hope and private reality

Mary Ivec, Valerie Braithwaite, Nathan Harris

    Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned report


    Occasional Paper 14: A qualitative study was undertaken to explore the private realities of Indigenous parents and self-identified carers who had experiences with child protection authorities. Semi-structured interviews focused on the nature of the relationship between parents and child protection authorities, how these regulatory encounters served to enlist or dissolve co-operation and how child-focused outcomes could be delivered. Data from interviews with forty-five Indigenous parents and self-identified carers in three separate jurisdictions in Eastern Australia revealed a paradox for authorities. Descriptions of encounters with authorities were overwhelmingly negative and challenged the public hope for reconciliation between government and Indigenous Australians. Enforcement strategies were experienced as confusing, threatening and coercive, undermining parenting morale and informal care capacity. On the other hand a positive role was acknowledged for child protection authorities and there seemed interest in working with such authorities, albeit with different strategies from those currently experienced. The need for dialogue, trust and partnerships involving informal care networks emerges from analysis of the data. The paper discusses how this progression might be facilitated by principles of restorative justice and responsive regulation.
    Original languageEnglish
    Commissioning bodyRegulatory Instituions Network
    Publication statusPublished - 2009


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