Better, more specialised support for kinship carers of Aboriginal children and young people is the focus of a new $3 million State Government program.
Three Aboriginal community-controlled organisations – Aboriginal Family Support Services (AFSS), InComPro and KWY – are the successful providers of a new Kinship Carer Support Program.
The two-year program recognises that Aboriginal organisations are best placed to support Aboriginal children and young people in care and strengthens the State Government’s commitment to making a real improvement to the lives of Aboriginal South Australians.
Supports offered through the new program will include more training for kinship carers and better supporting them to connect with services such as trauma specialists, education and health.
Currently, all carer support is provided through an internal Department for Child Protection program.
Minister for Child Protection Rachel Sanderson said the new program would better support Aboriginal children and young people – and their kinship carers.
“Better supporting our most vulnerable children and young people remains our priority, including ensuring better outcomes for Aboriginal children in care,” said Minister Sanderson.
“I’m thrilled to announce the new Kinship Carer Support Program will be delivered by three strong, local Aboriginal organisations.
“The important work that carers do in our community cannot be understated, and this new program aims to ensure that kinship carers of Aboriginal children and young people have access to appropriate supports that uphold children and young people’s rights to be connected to culture.
“Keeping Aboriginal children and young people connected to family, community and culture is central to their identity and wellbeing.
“More than half of Aboriginal children in care live with kinship carers and these carers play an absolutely critical role in developing and maintaining these connections.”
The new program compliments the department’s aim to increase its investment in Aboriginal organisations, to shift the way it works with Aboriginal families and to provide culturally safe and responsive services.
AFSS Chief Executive Sharron Williams said the organisation was excited to partner with the department.
“AFSS believes that Aboriginal children and young people who can't be with their birth families should be with their kin – their extended family and their community,” said Ms Williams.
“AFSS wanted to be involved because we believe strongly in keeping families together and that includes keeping Aboriginal children and young people connected to their wider families, their community and their culture.
“This program will help Aboriginal children and young people to know where they come from, who they are and who their family are and will help set them up for life with a strong sense of identity and belonging.”
KWY Chief Executive Craig Rigney said: “KWY sees the new program as an opportunity to highlight how culture can truly be a protective factor knowing that children can feel a strong sense of identity when their culture and families are acknowledged and included in decision making.”
InComPro Chief Executive Steven Newchurch said his organisation was keen to work in the area of kinship care to give carers the best possible supports to enhance the social and emotional wellbeing of the children and young people in their care.
“When children and young people have knowledge of their culture and community it will lead to better understanding and strong links to family and history,” said Mr Newchurch.
“This will help the young people to have a sense of pride, self-worth and dignity in themselves, their culture and community.”