Title: Working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, families and communities
Policy No. CPD610-1
The Department of Communities (Child Safety Services) recognises the detrimental and lasting effects of past government policies on the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and communities. Child Safety Services is committed to working collaboratively with families, communities and all of its partners to build on existing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families’ strengths so their children can reach their full potential.
The safety, wellbeing and best interests of a child are paramount and all interactions with a child will be respectful.
Every Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander child has a right to be safe and to live in a stable, secure and culturally appropriate placement.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families have the primary responsibility for the upbringing, protection and development of their children and the preferred way of ensuring a child’s wellbeing is through the support of the child’s family.
Extended family relationships are the core of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander kinship systems. These kinship systems, of grandparents, aunts, uncles, siblings and members of the community, will guide and support children through their lives.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children have an inherent right to know their own family and culture and to stay connected with their family, community, culture and spirituality.
Maintaining an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander child’s contact or involvement with family, community and culture, is critical and will be supported by and reflected in departmental case plans, cultural support plans and case documentation.
Recognised Entities must be given an opportunity to participate in decision-making processes about an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander child in accordance with Child Protection Act 1999, Sections 6 and 83(2) and (5)(a).
The objective of this policy is to ensure that Child Safety Services staff decisions and actions result in the delivery of respectful, culturally appropriate, effective and timely services to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families. Through the delivery of such services, the department will help build on the existing strengths of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and communities with the aim of reducing the overrepresentation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in the child protection system.
This policy, and associated procedures, guide the decisions and actions of Child Safety Services staff when working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, families and communities.
Roles and Responsibilities:
When fulfilling their roles and responsibilities as mandated in legislation and supported by policy, procedures and practice resources, Child Safety Services staff must ensure that the decisions made and services delivered:
build on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families’ strengths and recognise the significance of extended family and kinship care in raising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children
divert families, wherever possible, away from the statutory child protection system to appropriate community based early intervention and family support services
are respectful of and sensitive to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s culture and traditions and preserve and enhance the children’s sense of identity and their connections with family and community
enable the participation of children, when age and developmentally appropriate, families and communities in planning and decision-making processes
are tailored to each child’s protective and care needs and take into consideration the relevant resources within their family and community and
are planned for and provided in collaboration with the Recognised Entity.
To enact these roles and responsibilities, Child Safety Services staff will:
develop an understanding of kinship systems and community histories and dynamics
build relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and communities based upon respectful communication and culturally appropriate professional connections
identify key stakeholders within communities and work in partnership with significant community members and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander service providers and
work collaboratively with local government and non-government agencies to provide planned, co-ordinated services to children and families.
Child Safety Services staff must also ensure that, when recording information about their decisions and actions:
the information is clear
the language used is culturally sensitive
there is no information recorded about family or community members that is not directly relevant to the decision or intervention and
the information recorded complies with recording requirements outlined in departmental policy, procedures and practice resources.
Child Protection Act 1999, Sections 6, 7(1)(o), 51(E), (L) and (W), 70(4), 83, 159 (K) and (L) and 187
Records File No.: CHS/18668
Date of approval: 4 November 2010
Date of operation: 8 November 2010
Date to be reviewed: 4 November 2013
Office: Communities, Child Safety, Youth and Families
Help Contact: Child Protection Development – 3235 9411
Related departmental policies:
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Placement Principle (609)
Related legislation or standard:
Child Protection Act 1999
United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC)
Related Government guidelines:
Child Safety Practice Manual
Practice Paper: Working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
Practice resource: The Child Placement Principle
Practice resource: Working with the Recognised Entity
Practice resource: Developing a cultural support plan for an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander child
Practice resource: Legislative provisions in relation to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and collaboration with Recognised Entities
Linda A Apelt