Championing real change for Aboriginal children, families and communities
While there have been positive steps toward reconciliation and recognition of Indigenous issues in recent decades, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families continue to be disadvantaged across many health and social outcomes, including being vastly overrepresented in all child protection indicators.
As an example, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are over 10 times more likely to be removed from home than non-Indigenous children.
The existing evidence base is limited in regards to informing ways of designing systems and approaches that can reduce the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in child protection.
What has happened?
The Australian Centre for Child Protection has developed a program of research to tackle these issues. Ranging from studies of nurse home visiting for primary prevention to responses targeting young people and family-based interventions, the program has built a strong evidence base to address the knowledge gap and provide policy and practice solutions to inform positive systemic change.
The Centre has formed partnerships with a number of key Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations in order to work with communities to initiate this change. It is also involved in a number of ongoing projects that contribute to building multidisciplinary, collaborative ways of addressing these issues through services at the community level.
We have repeatedly called for greater national investment in research that identifies alternative responses for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families that recognise and address intergenerational harms as a result of colonisation, assimilation and the forced removal of children. In recognition of this, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner has recently made a recommendation for the establishment of a National Institute of Excellence in Indigenous Child Wellbeing and the Australian Centre for Child Protection is working to realise this vision.
The Centre has provided program evaluation services leading to state-based adoption of new approaches, such as Winangay Tools for the assessment of Aboriginal kinship carers and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Healing Foundation initiatives to alleviate intergenerational trauma.
Our research has enhanced knowledge within the sector about working with Indigenous children and families, which will inform systemic change and lead to improved service provision through identifying alternative approaches to working with families.
The Centre has developed strong partnerships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous organisations and continues to collaborate on building the evidence base around more effective ways of working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families.
“We know what we are doing in child protection isn’t working for Aboriginal kids, families and communities. We urgently need a Centre of Excellence led and controlled by Aboriginal people and drawing collectively on all available wisdom and expertise so we can find new ways and approaches that acknowledge the strengths of Aboriginal people, stop overrepresentation, ensure safety and produce outcomes for kids”
Aunt Sue Blacklock
Respected Elder of the Nucoorilma people from Tingha, part of the Gamilaraay nation
Chair of Winangay Resources Incorporated
Australian Centre for Child Protection Ambassador for Children