The Department has committed to strengthening its cultural capability and growing its Aboriginal workforce.

The Department for Child Protection (DCP) has today committed to strengthening its cultural capability and growing its Aboriginal workforce to better respond to the needs of Aboriginal children and young people in care.

The department has launched two key strategies – its first Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) and the Aboriginal Employment Strategy – with a goal to transform its organisational culture and service provision.

This launch follows the release in July of the DCP Aboriginal Action Plan, which sets out the actions that the department will take to improve outcomes for Aboriginal children in care. The action plan acknowledges the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Placement Principle as a guiding framework for action, and commits to active efforts across each of the Principle’s five core elements – Prevention, Partnership, Placement, Participation and Connection.

DCP Aboriginal Practice Director Tracy Rigney said the plans were underpinned by a strong focus on getting it right for Aboriginal children and young people in care.

“Aboriginal children and young people have the right to grow up in a safe and nurturing environment where their culture, community and spiritual identity are respected and celebrated by the people who care for them,” Ms Rigney said.

“Our vision for reconciliation is to strengthen our partnerships with stakeholders and community representatives, allowing us to work together to ensure Aboriginal children and young people in care are safe, cared for, and connected to family, culture, community and Country.

“This goal can only be achieved with the involvement of both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal staff, children and young people, carers, families, communities and organisations.”

The RAP has a focus on growing cultural capacity within the department through a recognised national framework administered by Reconciliation Australia. The RAP includes actions under four key areas: Relationships, Respect, Opportunities and Governance.

The Aboriginal Employment Strategy commits the department to a range of initiatives to build a diverse and inclusive workforce and increase the capability to provide care that is culturally respectful, safe and responsive.  It includes the commitment to an employment target of 10 per cent.

To support implementation, the department has introduced a new cultural learning program called the Aboriginal Cultural Footprint, which was developed in consultation with Aboriginal advisors.

This program aims to create a workplace culture that respects and values the skills, experience and perspectives of Aboriginal people and provides non-Aboriginal staff with knowledge, skills and understanding to apply when working with Aboriginal children and young people.

Deputy Chief Executive Fiona Ward said increasing cultural capability and growing the Aboriginal workforce is a critical goal for the department. 

“We need to be held accountable for the provision of culturally safe and inclusive services that will lead to better outcomes for Aboriginal children, young people and their families,” Ms Ward said.

“We will be guided by some key principles including that Aboriginal children and young people must be central in child protection decision-making, that we have strategies in place to ensure we retain our current Aboriginal staff and attract more Aboriginal employees, and that we make sure that the whole department understands its responsibility in achieving good outcomes for Aboriginal children and their families.

“Attracting and retaining Aboriginal employees is a vital part of the strategy to build our capacity to work with children and young people in care.”

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