Working for a better future and outcomes for our children
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Self-determination in Child Protection
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Self-determination in Child Protection
by Candice Butller
I was honoured to be involved in a webinar alongside Muriel Bamblett on the 18thof July 2018 titled ‘Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander self-determination in child protection’. The purpose of the webinar was to outline the recent initiatives that support self-determination of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and agencies in child protection matters. Throughout my presentation I highlighted the following significant initiatives in Queensland that have occurred to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander self-determination in child protection:
- The Child Protection Reform Amendment Act Section 5C - Additional Principles for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children
- The embedding of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Placement Principles into both legislation and practice
- The trials of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Family Led Decision Making
- The beginning of conversations in relation to Active Efforts
I concluded my presentation by saying:
“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-control is fundamental to self- determination and reflective of how Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities operated in the past and to this day. Central to the concept is local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people or communities controlling and operating legally-incorporated, independent, community- based organisations, in which governance is by elected community members, and with objectives relating to building strength and empowerment in community.
We need to ensure that our families and communities are being involved in every decision relating to the safety and wellbeing of their children in the child protection system. We need our families to be able to say who they would like to be involved and be at the forefront of decision making”.
If you would to listen to the webinar, please follow this link:
To join the conversation - Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander self-determination in child protection, click on the link:
Please feel free to contact Candice if you have any further questions about the webinar.
MULUNGU ON THE WAY UP!
Aunty Val, and Nathan representing Mulungu at Mossman High School, engaging with stakeholders such as Education QLD, YETI, Mossman Youth Support Services, and Intensive Family Support workers. This particular class has been developed by the school to engage indigenous youth, that were formerly identified as not engaging.
With the program kick off in June 2017, like all new programs, the journey was a rocky one, full of mistakes, learnings, adapting, flexibility, all with the end goal of best practice, for the best results for our families. The only way was up, and we have done exactly that – we are getting there. Our statistics and reputation have gone from strength to strength.
The success has been contributed to the leadership ensuring that staff have been provided with the tools and resources to do their jobs well through upskilling staff and regular communication, team building exercises, case conferencing and case co-ordination of our Family Services. We also recognise key pivotal staff members, and the success of our stakeholder engagements.
The increased engagement with stakeholders through our model of case management has seen the biggest improvement which has contributed to increased outcomes for our clients. We have gone from hesitantly attending child safety meetings, to inviting Child safety to our own driven care team meetings. This change has not only swung the power into our direction, but built the confidence of our staff members, and the confidence of our families and communities, in the strength of our organization to advocate for them.
With the intent of this program and the collaboration with the Department, sees the best service delivered to identified families in need and a swift response to the departments regarding high priority referrals. The services delivery happens with them for them and not to them. Our relationship and communication with stakeholders ensures that the service that they now provide to our families are what our families need and the quality of this delivery is of a medium to high level standard and not tokenistic.
The greatest success, is now witnessing CSO’s and investigating officers, not only respect our practice techniques, but tailor and often duplicate our methods. On a daily occurrence, we are now receiving calls from investigating officers, asking advice, and assistance with families prior to their engagement. The change has been the beginning of a symbiotic relationship that can only benefit all those involved, especially our direct clients.
Mulungu Family Services have an integrated whole of life model for primary health care and social and emotional wellbeing. Twelve months on we are still looking at innovative practices that improve the health and wellbeing of our families and ensure family led decision making is at the forefront to establish their ongoing storyline.
Arna Brosnan from the Department of Child Safety, Youth and Women, who is the Regional Director for Northern Queensland Region has provided the below quote in relation to the Mulungu Family Wellbeing Service:
“Mulungu Family Well Being Service is striving ahead supporting and challenging families in the Northern Tablelands area to make the changes necessary to improve the long-term outcomes for their children.
The Service has been very proactive in working with parents encouraging them to become more involved with their children, to seek better choices and to engage with services that will help make sustainable changes that will bring lifelong benefits to their children’s lives.
This agency is proving to be a real leader in the sector.”
Good News Story
Mulungu’s Family Care Service was called to assist with a family in need. The parents had 2 children removed from the family and the concern was the return of a baby into the care of this family. The environment where the parents were living was overcrowded, violent and disruptive. Engagement was rough with not parents not wanting to engage and hence we accompanied the CSO’s to engage. On assessment and review we purchased resources to make the home safe and purchased medical assistance. The parents relapsed at the 8 week point with both parents incarcerated overnight. We same day sourced and relocated mum and her new borne to a safe place with a family member and sought assistance from a domestic violence service in Cairns. Mum consented to entering a 3mth rehabilitation program and with further support, we supported her to access her accommodation for her and her happy healthy thriving baby. Mum is now making an application for the return of her older children. We are proud of mum as she left the environment that had the impacting issues and is focused on a positive future.
Mulungu Family Care Service
Aunty Val cooking up a storm.
Healing Foundations Aug 2018 Stolen Generations Report
New report shows long-term disadvantage for Australia’s Stolen Generations
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Stolen Generations and descendants: numbers, demographic characteristics and selected outcomes
Today the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare released Australia’s first demographic and policy impact study of the Stolen Generations and their descendants.
Commissioned by The Healing Foundation, this report for the first time provides comprehensive data to illustrate the direct link between the forced removal of tens of thousands of children from their families and the real life symptoms of trauma across our families and communities, for example:
- 67% live with a disability or restrictive long-term condition,
- 70% rely on government payments as their main source of income, and
- 40% have experienced homelessness in the past 10 years.
This data is a demonstration of the lived experience of our Stolen Generations and the pain they have had to endure over a lifetime, which they have bravely and repeatedly detailed in over 19 reports. Twenty one years on from the tabling of the Bringing Them Home Report there has still not been a comprehensive policy response.
The report is part of an ongoing needs analysis being led by The Healing Foundation, and involving Stolen Generations groups from around Australia. The data is being used to determine priorities for future strategies and services, as part of our Action Plan for Healing. This work was funded by the Federal Government last year and we are hopeful that it will result in the action that is desperately needed to break the trauma cycle and create healing in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
I have no doubt that the information contained here will help build a broader understanding of the issues that have been created for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people through actions like the forced removal of children from their families. And a better understanding is the first step to creating meaningful change.
Here is the link to the report and a summary of the key findings. Please share this information with your networks. Thank you for your ongoing commitment to our work and we look forward to furthering our conversation about the future work needed to support our Stolen Generations members, their descendants and communities.
The Healing Foundation
Link to report: https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/indigenous-australians/stolen-generations-descendants/contents/table-of-contents
Link to summary of key findings: https://healingfoundation.org.au/app/uploads/2018/08/HF_Stolen_Gererations_2Page_Infographics_Aug2018_V1.pdf
THANK YOU Cindy Namok!
The team at QATSICPP would like to take this opportunity to say thank-you and farewell to Cindy Namok, a highly valued member of our extended QATSICPP family.
Your support and guidance when working alongside Torres Strait Islander children, families and communities has been instrumental in guiding the work of QATSICPP.
We acknowledge your leadership and steadfast advocacy in the interests of Torres Strait Islander children and their families and your generosity in sharing your wisdom and passion on this important journey of reform. We wish you all the best in your future endeavours.
60 seconds with Leiarna Dooley
Service Manager Kalwun Child & Family Support Services
From Kalwun Child & Family Support Agency
1. Where your mob from: Moa Island Torres Strait
2. Name an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander person that has influenced your life or encouraged to be the person you are? My father is the biggest influence in my life – very cultural and one of the kindest and most helpful people you could meet
3. 5 things I cannot live without: Only 2 things and that’s my family and my children
4. What is your favourite flavoured ice cream? Without a double vanilla with choc topping
5. If you could have a drink with someone from history who would it be? And what drink would you have? I did an assignment on Albert Namatjira when I was little and have always remembered him and was inspired by his life – the drink I would have with him is a scotch and coke to celebrate him.
6. If you could be an animal what would you be? A Turtle – not exactly an animal but I’m in love with them
7. What is your favourite season and why? Spring – not to hot and not to cold
8. What do you miss most about being a kid? Having the freedom of not dealing with adult life
9. What hobby or activity that you don’t do now but think you might like to do when you retire? I love to draw and have no time in my life now – very therapeutic
10. What goes through your mind when your boss asks to talk to you privately? I’m totally fine with this as I have a very friendly open and honest boss who I am not worried about speaking to her privately
11. What song do you love to dance to? I love all Country and Western music and love to sing to this
Townsville Aboriginal & Islanders Health Services (TAIHS Family Wellbeing Service)
“CONCEPT: Creating an early years child and family centred space”
The creation of a centre based space in Garbutt to support family wellbeing program delivery came about from several reasons;
- As a pilot site for the First 1000 days Australia our Family Wellbeing space we needed an environment that supported delivery of key messages of significant factors that enhance the optimum development in this period of preconception through to 2 years. These include; pristine pregnancies, nutrition, children's rights, family safety, impacts of stress on brain development and the role of parents as children first and most important teachers.
- A centre based space provides scope for Wellbeing Workers to support families when the home visiting model is difficult to implement activities during times where families may be experiencing vulnerabilities.
- Closer proximity to TAIHS wrap around services increases opportunities to work in a more coordinated approach with staff from Primary Health, Mums and Bubs, SEWBT, Youth and Accommodation services. Colocation has already increased capacity to provide supports right when children young people or family are seeking support. Staff can provide information, advice and referral to families across several domains; Child Wellbeing; Family Safety; Cultural Connections; Parenting; Material Wellbeing; Health.
So why a house?
Creating a space that didn't appear clinical or deficit focussed was paramount. A key focus was placed on creating a physical space that recognises culture as a protective factor in growing up kids. Key resources and activities are used by staff to support family to connect their children to culture and build a strong sense of identity.
Simulating a home environment lends opportunities for staff to role model everyday routine activities without it looking like a “parenting” program. Staff incorporate routine activities to enhance key messages around child development; supporting children to reach milestones through activities (talking, singing, reading and playing with children); activities that include planning and preparing meals, personal care routines for little kids e.g. nappy change, toilet training, getting ready for school, physical activity and adequate rest etc.
The house has capacity for a variety of activities to occur either indoor or outside including:
- 1:1 - Brief Interventions with walk in’s where workers provide; advice information and referral to relevant services; and case planning.
- Small groups - Family Group Meetings, Stakeholder meetings, story time, cooking group
- Group Work - Parent education sessions, Playgroups, Guest speakers, staff training
The physical layout of the house is focussed on creating a sense of welcoming families with young children. Resources are always arranged with a focus on opportunities’ to promote play and engaging with children, as this is a key facet of their learning and development.
Funding from Department of Education & Prime Minister and Cabinet include activities to promote successful transition to school and ongoing education and learning. Information and advice on early years services, kindergarten, transition to school (orientation and enrolment in prep) and regular attendance to ensure children have access ad opportunity to education.
Yamani = rainbow
Programs @ Yamani Meta
The weekly program of activities in the house is focussed on 5 key domains of nurturing care which underpin the criticality of the First 1000 Days of children’s learning and development.
Nutrition sessions are led by a dietician from Compleat Nutrition.
Early Learning includes a MOU with Red Cross who deliver a weekly their Giggle & Grow playgroup 10:00am - 11:30 am.
Safety & Security incorporates co delivery of Evidence Based Programs with Evolve therapeutic services including; Drum beat, Bringing up Great Kids, Love Bites, 1,2,3 Magic,
Health topics are delivered by a variety of health professionals including; Mum’s & Bubs, SEWBT, GP’s Health promotion and Deadly Choices teams.
The landline for the house is 07 4759 4039.
Staff are happy to come to the health service and accompany family to the space to talk about the services we offer. Families can self refer.
For referrals please use the link to our online referral which goes directly to our data base and ensures referrals are all located in a central space.
For further information, please contact TAIHS on (07) 4759 4000.
Queensland’s First Indigenous Judge Appointed
Queensland Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Yvette D’Ath recently announced the appointment of barrister Nathan Jarro as a District Court Judge in Brisbane.
Nathan Jarro, a Ghangulu and Bidjara man will be the state’s first Indigenous judge.
Mrs D’Ath said, “This is an important appointment for Queensland justice”.
“Nathan Jarro brings significant litigation experience to the role as a barrister. He initially practised in family and criminal law but has later focused on insurance, administrative, commercial and property law.”
He has held the role of Deputy Public Interest Monitor since 2011.
“He’s also adept at alternative dispute resolution techniques as a long-standing tribunal member for the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal and Mental Health Review Tribunal,” Mrs D’Ath said.
“And he has a strong history of involvement in his community, as a current Board Director for the Queensland Theatre company, chair of the QUT Indigenous Education and Employment Consultative Committee, and former Board Director of the National Indigenous Television LTD (NITV).”
Mr Jarro received his Bachelor of Laws from QUT in 1999 and, after working as a solicitor in private practice, came to the Bar in 2004. Mr Jarro has been one of Queensland’s most senior practising Indigenous lawyers.
Nathan takes up his new position from Monday March 26, 2018.
QATSICPP would like to congratulate Nathan on this historic appointment and wishes him every success.
Story on Family Led Decision Making
The Department of Child Safety, Youth and Women hosted a presentation and discussion on 28 March about the Evaluation Findings for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Family Led Decision Making trials that took place from April 2016 to June 2017.
- John Burton from SNAICC (national peak body for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families, and implementation partner for the trials)
- Noel Niddrie from Winangali and Kylie Brosnan and Sharon Barnes from Ipsos Australia (independent research partners that evaluated the trials)
- Natalie Lewis from QATSICPP (Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Protection Peak).
John Burton from SNAICC began with a brief overview of the trials, which took place in four locations across Queensland (Ipswich, Mt Isa, Cairns and Torres Strait Islands) and at different points in the child protection continuum (early intervention, investigation and assessment, and ongoing child protection orders). Each trial site employed community convenors to prepare families for, and facilitate, family meetings to make decisions about the safety and wellbeing of their children.
SNAICC’s role as implementation partner was to:
- develop guidelines for the trials in partnership with the Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Association and in consultation with trial sites and QATSICPP
- provide training to trial staff on family led decision making principles and practices
- provide support for implementation at each of the trial sites, and
- report on progress throughout the trials as well as findings and recommendations at the end of the trials.
John Burton highlighted key recommendations that included adequate resourcing be provided to enable family led decision making, particularly in relation to preparation time with families, and that convenor’s be supported with community of practice opportunities as well as regular meetings with departmental staff to enable an exchange of ideas and values that was found to contribute to a shift in mindset, roles and relationships between community convenors and departmental staff.
Research findings compiled by Winangali Pty Ltd and Ipsos Australia echoed these findings, with Kylie Brosnan noting that “any approach used with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families must address trauma and the historical context to build the capacity and strengths of communities to feel able to make decisions about children’s wellbeing”.
The evaluators found that when the family led process was implemented as intended there was a shift in practice from community controlled organisations providing cultural advice to the department, to convenors enabling the genuine cultural authority and leadership of families and communities in regard to the safety of children.
Kylie emphasised that decision making in a culturally safe space required independence, choice, privacy (private family discussion) and time. When preparation and meetings were not rushed, emotional triggers could be diffused and healing from past removals or interventions occurred. She explained “cultural ways come forward when dictated processes subside”.
Noel Niddrie emphasized that time is not just an important element for families but it is also an essential element of the family led decision making process in order to enable Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander convenors to conduct business on country in a way that meets cultural obligations.
Natalie Lewis pointed out a key factor that underpins the handover of decision making power from department to families, which is that “no one is more invested in the wellbeing of children than families themselves, and their communities. We need to trust that”.
The question and answer session that followed presentations focused on how the trials wrapped up and what happens next in moving toward the role of a new ‘independent Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander entity’ for a child in family led decision making. A theme that emerged from the presentations to be taken forward into the family led process is that of Place, Power and People.
The roll out of family led decision making processes across the state are expected later this year through funding of the Family Participation Program provided by Department of Child Safety, Youth and Women to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community organisations.
Both the Implementation Report (from SNAICC) and the Evaluation Report (from Winangali and Ipsos Australia) are available on the SNAICC website. The department will use findings from both reports to inform future policy, evidence-based program design, and practice improvement in the area of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Family Led Decision Making practice in Queensland.