Indigenous families demand justice over Queensland Child Safety failures  

In a landmark class action, First Nations parents and children in Queensland allege the Department of Child Safety breached the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 in the way it deals with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families, and failed its obligations under child protection laws.

The Case

The cases contend that the Department neglected to reunite or restore family relationships, did not support children within the system to learn and practice their culture, language, or maintain their connection to Country, and failed to place children with indigenous family members as required by legislation.

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As in 2020-21, 21% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children removed into out-of-home care nationally were under the age of 1, and were removed at ten times the rate of non-Indigenous infants


In 2020-21, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children nationwide were 5.5 times more likely than non-Indigenous children to be reported to child protection authorities


The number of our children living in out of home care is projected to increase by 50% over the next decade – compared to an increase of just 13.5% for non-Indigenous children.

Your Representatives

In our class action, there are two cases – one for the parents, and one for the children, and each have a “lead applicant”.

The “lead applicants” represent similar stories shared by thousands of First Nations people across Queensland. The parent and child applicants represent groups of people with similar discriminatory experiences in their dealings with the Department of Child Safety in Queensland.

Our parent lead applicant who represents First Nations parents had all three of his children removed, including one child who was taken from their parents as a baby, at the hospital after birth. 

The lead applicant for the child group was removed from her family as a baby and remained in the system to age 18. During that time she was placed in numerous different foster homes and residential group homes. She claims that the Department knew she was First Nations, but refused to tell her of her First Nations relatives.


Two class actions on behalf of First Nations families have been launched against the Queensland Department of Child Safety based on complaints from hundreds of First Nations families about discriminatory experiences. These two classes actions are together referred to as the “DOCS Class Action”. The cases involve claims for breaches of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cth) by the Queensland Department of Child Safety, towards both children who were removed from their families, and parents who had children removed. In both groups, claims of unlawful discrimination on the basis of race or descent are made. It is also claimed the Department failed to adhere to the Child Placement Principles within the Child Protection Act 1999 (Qld).

The claims outline a number of financial and non-financial remedies.

  1. The establishment of a well-resourced consultation process designed to facilitate the restoration of family relationships for those impacted by the Department's actions.
  2. Training for staff to interact with First Nations families in a trauma-informed and culturally sensitive manner.
  3. A formal and public apology for the Department's child removal practices.
  4. Financial compensation for those affected.

There are two groups of claimants: parents and children.


Do you identify as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander, and:

  1. have you had a child or children removed from your care by the Queensland Department of Child Safety, on or after 4 March 1992; and
  2. were you given requirements set by the Department in order to have contact or reunite with your removed child or children?

If so, you are eligible to join the class action as an affected parent.


Do you identify as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander and:

  1. were at least 14 years old on 11 November 2023;
  2. were you removed from your family by the Queensland Department of Child Safety, before you turned 18; and
  3. did the removal from your family occurred on or after 4 March 1992?

If so, you are eligible to join the class action as an affected child.

If you are eligible and want to register your interest in the class action, you can do so online here or by calling the DOCS phoneline on 1800 405 405.

You do not need to share details of your story with us if you are not comfortable doing so, however we are interested in hearing your story if you wish to share it. Your story will be treated with strict confidentiality and will not be shared with the Department.

Register Now to Join this Class Action