Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander practice reforms - Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services (Queensland Government)

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Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander practice reforms

The department is working to improve child protection practice to better meet the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and ensure support and responses for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families are:

  • more culturally appropriate
  • strongly evidence based
  • appropriate for local contexts.

To achieve this, the department will work in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled organisations to trial three Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander family-led decision making and shared practice models. The trials are designed to empower families to make informed choices about their children, while the department works with families to ensure the safety of the children.

These alternative models recognise the needs and strengths of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and communities, by placing families at the centre of decision making and ensuring that the process for support is led by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The department has contracted Secretariat of National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care (SNAICC) to lead the design and the implementation of the trials, in collaboration with participating Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled organisations and regional staff.

The trials commenced in April 2016 and will take place over 12 months.

As part of the trials, SNAICC is working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled organisations in each trial site to establish local reference groups. The local reference groups are a critical component of the trials and their role is to promote self-determination of community-controlled organisations, bring local knowledge and provide cultural expertise.

The trials will be independently evaluated and the outcomes will be used to inform future departmental practice and contribute to addressing the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in Queensland’s child protection system.

About the trials

The trials will take place in three regions in Queensland and focus on enhancing decision making and planning with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families, as well as with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled organisations at different points of the child protection continuum.

The first trial will be conducted in Ipswich in partnership with Kummara Inc. Family Support Service. As part of the trial, Kummara will apply family-led decision making as an early intervention response for assessment and planning. This will involve the application of a family group conferencing framework, which is a strengths-based shared practice model that empowers the family to identify their strengths and take the lead in designing a solution to meet their child’s needs. The outcomes have the potential to improve support pathways and coordinate services for families who are at risk of entering the statutory child protection system.

The second trial will occur in Mount Isa in partnership with the Recognised Entity, Aboriginal and Islanders Development and Recreational Women’s Association and District Inc. (AIDRWA). This trial applies Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander family-led decision making before the department’s investigation and assessment is finalised. AIDRWA will coordinate and independently convene a family group conference that will collaboratively identify and address the safety concerns with the family, with the intent of arriving at alternatives to protection, or identifying strategies to minimise the degree and length of any necessary intervention.

The third trial will be conducted in two locations — Cairns and the Torres Strait Islands. In this trial, the department will partner with Wuchopperen Health Service and Port Kennedy Association Inc. to test the effectiveness of expanding the role of Recognised Entities to take the lead in co-convened family group meetings. The department will work in close partnership with the Recognised Entities and families to develop family-driven, culturally appropriate case plans.

Both the second and third trials will also include an expanded role for Recognised Entities to take the lead on practice activities including:

  • identification of potential carers
  • preparation of cultural support plans
  • preparation of transition from care plans.

To ensure the trials take account of best practice approaches and learnings from the use of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander family-led decision making and family group conferencing in other states and territories, the department has established a multi-jurisdictional working group comprising policy, program and practitioner managers from all government child protection agencies across Australia. The working group meets quarterly to share information, experience and provide feedback and input into the design, implementation and evaluation of the trials.

Is your feedback

Please submit your comments on the department's Compliments and Complaints section.

Please submit your comments on the Queensland Government website Contacts form.