This page was last updated 18 April 2019.

It is acknowledged that child protection outcomes for Aboriginal children and young people have historically been poor, and that they are still over-represented at all levels of the child protection system today. This is why it is of critical importance that services for Aboriginal children and young people and their families are culturally safe and responsive.

The Aboriginal Practice Directorate within the department works to ensure that DCP practice and services are culturally safe and responsive to the needs of Aboriginal children and young people, and their families and communities.

We acknowledge that Aboriginal people, organisations and communities are the experts in this field. This is why the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Placement Principle underpins our work.

It is a requirement that Service Providers contracted by DCP that provide services to Aboriginal children, young people and their families also understand and seek to implement this Principle.

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Placement Principle

    The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Placement Principle (the Principle) was developed through strong and sustained advocacy from Aboriginal leaders, families, organisations and experts. This started as a grassroots community campaign ad grew into what is now acknowledged as the cornerstone of Aboriginal child protection practice.

    There are 5 core inter-related elements to the Principle:

    PreventionProtecting children's rights to grow up in family, community and culture
    PartnershipEnsuring the participation of community representatives in service design, delivery and individual case decisions
    PlacementPlacing children in out of home care in accordance with the placement hierarchy
    ParticipationEnsuring the participation of children, parents and family members in decisions regarding care and protection
    ConnectionMaintaining and supporting connections to family, community, culture and country for children in out of home care 

    The Service Provider will adhere to the objects and principles in section 12 of the Children and Young People (Safety) Act 2017. Placement of an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander child or young person must be prioritised in line with the placement hierarchy:

    1. a member of the child or young person's family
    2. a member of the child or young person's community who has a relationship of responsibility for the child or young person
    3. a member of the child or young person's community
    4. a person of aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander background (as the case requires).

    Where a child or young person is unable to be placed with family, they should be given opportunity for continuing contact with their family, communities or culture.

    For more information about the Principle and the 5 elements see SNAICC's guide to implementation.

  • Service provision requirements

    1. The Service Provider will act in accordance with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Placement Principle and will understand and uphold the 5 core elements of this principle:

    • Prevention
    • Partnership
    • Placement
    • Participation
    • Connection.

    2. The Service Provider will ensure staff obtain a working knowledge and understanding of Aboriginal cultures, identities, values, belief and customs by attending training and forums that promote awareness of Aboriginal histories, and culturally safe and responsive practice.

    3. The Service Provider will involve the child or young person, their family and their community in decisions and, where necessary, use appropriate Aboriginal interpreters in communication with these stakeholders.

    4. The Service Provider will seek guidance regarding service development and delivery from Aboriginal organisations, leaders, Elders, mentors, advisors and communities.

    5. The Service Provider will work alongside Aboriginal children and young people and their families to explore cultural connections and identify the child or young person's community, Country and language group.

    6. The Service Provider will develop relationships with Aboriginal organisations and relevant Aboriginal communities as soon as an Aboriginal child or young person is placed in care, or as soon as they become aware of the child or young person's Aboriginal identity.

    7. The Service Provider will ensure when a child is placed in home-based care that the carer is informed of specific aspects of a child or young person's Aboriginal identity, including community, Country and language group.

    • At the earliest possible time, carers will receive additional information or training concerning specific cultural issues, as required. The Service Provider is to work in partnership with the DCP Regional Office to develop and maintain the Cultural Maintenance Plan (Aboriginal Cultural Identity Support Tool) as per section 28 of the Children and Young People (Safety) Act 2017.
    • In circumstances where an Aboriginal child or young person is placed with a non-Aboriginal carer, the Service Provider will ensure the carer receives information and training on culturally appropriate caring, to ensure the child or young person's cultural values, beliefs and practices are respected and upheld.
  • Definitions

    Aboriginal / Torres Strait Islander - an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander is a person of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent who identifies as an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander and is accepted as such by the relevant Aboriginal community. (Self identification by a child or a child's family is the only requirement to begin applying the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Placement Principle).

    Country - the geographical location the Aboriginal child or young person's culture is linked to. This includes everything within the landscape - landforms, waters, air, trees, rocks, plants, animals, foods, medicines, minerals, stories and special places.

    Community - the group of people the Aboriginal child or young person's culture is linked to. This could be linked by family connections, language, cultural practices, knowledge, songs, stories and art.

    Culturally safe and responsive - an environment that actively encourages and is welcome, safe and respectful or a child or young person's Aboriginal culture and identity. The ability to continually learn from and relate respectfully with people from other cultures.

    Language group - A particular Aboriginal community bound together by a shared language and often with distinct land, laws and cultures. There are approximately 50 Aboriginal language groups across what is now known as South Australia.