The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW, 2013) show that as of 30 June 2012, there were 39,621 Australian children living in out-of-home care.  In all jurisdictions, the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children on placement orders was higher than that for other children. As of 30 June 2012, there were 13,299 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out-of-home care in Australia - a placement rate of 55.1 per 1,000 children. In contrast, the rate for non-Indigenous children was 5.4 per 1,000. This indicates that the national rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out-of-home care was more than 10 times the rate for non-Indigenous children (AIHW, 2013).

Under international law children have the right to protection. This means that there are times when  children  may  need  to  live  away  from  their  parents  because  they  have experienced deliberate harm and abuse.  The state has the power to intervene in these cases.  However, children are often removed because their parent/s experience mental illness, have a disability, are homeless or incarcerated, have a drug and/or alcohol misuse problem, or their children are exposed  to  domestic  violence.    Many  parents  who  have  children  in  out-of-home  care  have themselves been removed from their families (Community Affairs References Committee 2004, Morgan  Disney  2006,  Harries  2008,  Hamilton  2010,  Ivec,  Braithwaite  &Harris  2011).  The trauma of removal becomes trans-generational.

It was due to the growing concern amidst community members including academics, professionals and community workers that  actively  joined  with  parents  affected  by  child  removal  to  form the Family Inclusion Network across Australia. Drawing on national and international research (which continues to grow), FINs are concerned about the processes within the statutory child protection system which exclude birth parents and extended family members from the lives of their children.  FIN members are also concerned about the rising number of children entering the statutory child protection system and the poor outcomes children and young people have when they come out  of  care,  including  homelessness,  mental  illness, unemployment,  poorer educational outcomes and incarceration.

In  October  2007,  the  first  National  Roundtable  of  Family  Inclusion  Networks occurred  in Brisbane, Queensland.    The  Focus  Question  for  the  Roundtable  was:  “How  can  Parents  be  included  as Legitimate  Stakeholders  in  the  Best  Interest  of  Children”.  A national vision and plan was developed at this event.   This was further expanded in 2008 in Perth, Western Australia following the first national FIN conference followed by national gatherings 2009 and 2011.

FINA proposes to undertake a National Response to child protection systems with the aim of better meeting the needs of children and young people in care through including their parents, extended  families,  and significant  others  in  the  decision  making  processes  of  complex  and often closed or adversarial child protection systems.  Based on what we know from research, parents and family members are an important part of children’s outcomes when in the child protection system. 

In 2008 Fin WA were the recipients of State based funding to provide a support service for parents; they were the first state or territory to receive such funding and to date remains the only funded service throughout Australia.