The Aboriginal Child Placement Principle became the official policy of the South Australian government in 1983. The Principle was established to ensure that Aboriginal children in foster care were placed with Aboriginal families. Children raised in a culturally appropriate environment were more likely to learn about language and culture, allowing them to retain or rediscover their cultural identity. The Principle was included in South Australian legislation from 1988. It was renamed the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Placement Principle in 2009.
The South Australian Aboriginal Child Care Agency was established in 1978 to assist with finding Aboriginal foster families for Aboriginal children placed in care. As a result of lobbying by Aboriginal Child Care agencies across Australia, the Aboriginal Child Placement Principle (ACPP) was developed. It became the official policy of the South Australian Department of Community Welfare in 1983.
The Principle outlined the preferred order of placement for an Aboriginal child. The first preference was for children to be placed with members of their own extended family. If this was not possible, children were to be placed with another Aboriginal family from the same community. Finally if this option failed, children would be placed with another Aboriginal family.
The Principle acknowledged that previous government policies caused separation and suffering for Aboriginal people and emphasised the right of Aboriginal people to raise their own children in their own communities. It recognised that placement with an Aboriginal family allowed children to be raised in a culturally appropriate environment, an environment which would help them to retain, and learn more about, their culture and language.
The ACPP was incorporated into South Australian legislation in the Adoption Act 1988 and the Children's Protection Act 1993. In 2009 the Children's Protection Act was amended to include Torres Strait Islander people. From that year the Principle was renamed the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Placement Principle.