A two-year pilot program will support new kinship carers to keep Aboriginal children and young people connected to culture and community, leading to better long-term outcomes.

The pilot, which is scheduled to begin in mid-2020, will be provided by one or more Aboriginal community controlled organisations.

Currently all kinship carer support is provided through an internal Department for Child Protection program.

Department for Child Protection Deputy Chief Executive Fiona Ward said keeping children connected with culture not only benefits them individually, but also helps to break inter-generational contact with the child protection system.

“It is a fundamental right of Aboriginal children and young people in care to be connected to family, community and culture,” Fiona said.

“More than half of Aboriginal children in care live with kinship carers, who play a critical role in developing and maintaining this connection.

“This is about children knowing who they are and where they come from, which helps them to form a strong identity and maintain critical lifelong connections.”

A key focus of the pilot will be for one or more Aboriginal controlled organisations to provide support to regional and remote carers of Aboriginal children.

The support offered will depend on the individual kinship carer’s needs and may include:

  • using the organisation’s existing networks and knowledge to connect carers with Aboriginal community and culture
  • connecting carers to practical supports, services and networks such as trauma specialists, education and health
  • assisting carers to manage the impacts of inter-generational trauma for children and young people in their care
  • facilitating training, including on how to maintain cultural connections
  • advocating on their behalf to resolve issues or access services
  • providing advice and helping carers to understand and navigate the child protection system.

The pilot is based on a strong body of evidence following similar programs in the Northern Territory, and Victoria.

“This pilot will help us to further embed the Aboriginal Child Placement Principle into our work and can have flow on effects for the broader Aboriginal business sector,” Fiona said.

“That is why we are committing to this pilot being delivered by Aboriginal community controlled organisations.

“Last year we set a goal to increase our investment in Aboriginal-run organisations from 0.5% to 3%, as part of our promise to shift the way we work with Aboriginal families and provide culturally safe services.

“I am pleased to say that we have well exceeded this target, with more than 5% of our services now delivered by Aboriginal providers.”

The pilot program will be made available to new kinship carers of Aboriginal children and young people.