The Child Protection Act 1999 requires that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and their families and communities receive services from Child Safety that meet the cultural and identity needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, and reflect the unique needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families, stemming from their history as Indigenous Australians (Child Protection Bill 1998, clause 6, explanatory notes).
Under the Child Protection Act 1999, section 6, Child Safety is required to work with a recognised entity when making all decisions about an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander child. In accordance with the Child Protection Act 1999, section 6(1) and (2), Child Safety is required to either:
- provide the recognised entity with an opportunity to participate in the decision-making, where the decision is significant
- consult with the recognised entity on all other decisions.
A recognised entity may be an individual or organisation that is appropriate to be consulted about the child's protection and care under an agreement between the department and the entity. If the entity is an individual, he or she must:
- be an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person
- have appropriate knowledge of or expertise in child protection
- not be an officer or employee of the department.
If the recognised entity is an organisation, its members must include Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander persons who have appropriate knowledge of or expertise in child protection and are not officers or employees of the department. It must also provide services to Aboriginal persons or Torres Strait Islanders (Child Protection Act 1999, section 246I). The department must also keep a list of the recognised entities with whom to consult about the protection and care of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander children (Child Protection Act 1999, section 246I).
For further information about the roles of the recognised entities, the legislative requirement to work collaboratively with a recognised entity for the child and the responsibilities of the Child Safety officer, refer to the practice resource Working with the recognised entity and Chapter 10.1 Decision-making about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.