ICWA Downunder: Exploring the Costs and Benefits of Enacting an Australian Version of the United States' Indian Child Welfare Act

Marcia Zug - Canadian Journal of Family Law

Australian Indigenous Advocates have long sought the passage of Indigenous child-welfare legislation similar to the United States’s Indian Child Welfare Act. Recently, the Australian government has indicated it is receptive to the enactment of such legislation. However, an Australian version of the ICWA is not as simple as it sounds. The legal status of the Indigenous communities of Australia and American Indian tribes is vastly different thus, many of the ICWA’s provisions, particularly those based on a recognition of Indigenous sovereignty, would require significant modifications before they could be applied in Australia. These modifications mean an Australian ICWA could not be as robust as the American version of the Act. Nevertheless, with these changes, an Australian version of the ICWA is feasible and could significantly reduce Indigenous child removals and the break up of Indigenous families and communities in Australia.